Langley Middle Schoolers head to Falcon land

"Trying to lure eighth-grade classmate Natalie Hollyfield into a mock duel with carnations, Shannon McAffee goes en garde with her flower just minutes after receiving her diploma at Monday's Langley Middle School graduation ceremony.Matt Johnson / staff photoFrom the sights and sounds last Thursday, Langley Middle School's graduation ceremony seemed to be sending its more than 200 eighth graders off into the world, rather than to South Whidbey High School.Speaking before their parents, teachers and classmates, members of the the South Whidbey High School class of 2005 talked about knowledge they had accumulated during their sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade years, the friends they had made, and the truths they had just begun to uncover. The graduates then received scores of academic, athletic and achievement awards and, one by one, collected their diplomas and walked out of Langley Middle School one last time.Then each and every one of these 13- and 14-year-olds hopped into the passenger seat of a car and got a ride home from their parents. At this graduation, at least, kids were still kids, even with diplomas in their hands.They were a group the school's teachers and administrators seemed loathe to let go. More than half the students in the class graduated with a grade-point average of 3.5 or better, while eight finished with 4.0 averages. The group boasts star athletes, outstanding musicians, budding scientists, and even a few kids who are already pretty good at delivering a speech in front of a big crowd without mangling so much as a single syllable. Adam Tenuta, one of two faculty-choice student speakers, was one of four students who drew healthy applause with a short, confident address.I have learned so much about myself and all you guys, Tenuta said as he wished his classmates a successful transition to high school.Earning some of the most valued student awards on the day were Natalie Hollyfield and Doug Allison, who were named the most inspirational students, and best all-around students Charlie Patnoe and Becky Gabelein. One student, however, seemed to be reveling in the finality of his eighth-grade year as he received his diploma.This is as far as I'll ever go, he yelled as he crossed the stage in the LMS gymnasium.The class will be one of the largest-ever incoming groups at South Whidbey High School when it starts classes in September. "

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