Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 6, 2010

Moving on:

Grads march across Mercer

PRINCETON —  A moving personal testimony, a joyous celebration of the spirit and the power of young voices punctuated a trio of commencement exercises on Saturday in Mercer County.

PikeView High School valedictorian, Andrew Hill, was articulate and insightful in his remarks to his Class of 2010 classmates, yet he still confessed that, “The man behind the microphone is just as uncertain as you are.”

Still, Hill said that he has great optimism for the Class of 2010. “The future is indeed, ours,” he said. “Let’s try not to make a mess of it.”

Dreama Denver, widow of Bob Denver, an iconic television star and comedic genius, told the graduates at Princeton Senior High School that the heartbreaking challenges they face in life will build character. Denver, a Bluefield native who received a roar in response to saying: “Go Tigers!” told how her husband convinced her not to be ashamed of her southern West Virginia roots.

She said that when she met her husband-to-be, she felt embarrassed to tell him she was from West Virginia, but he responded that West Virginia is “one of the most geographically beautiful state in the union,” she said, recalling her husband’s words. “That state is populated by salt-of-the-earth, honorable people,” she said. “We are a good, strong people. We know right from wrong. We work hard. We look out for each other,” she said. “Be proud to be a West Virginian. “Let the rest of the world know that West Virginians are a force to be reckoned with.”

The parking lot at Montcalm High School was absolutely jammed with cars. Most of the usable spaces along the entrance to the hilltop sylvan sanctuary were full and some cars appeared to be run aground in the roadside ditches. The parking lots of the Montcalm Post Office and Pridich medical Center were full and cars were parked on both sides of the River Road all the way out to Lorton Lick.

The MHS gymnasium was steaming, but when Principal Mark Page turned the program over to the Class of 2010 and encouraged the people attending to sit back and enjoy, the exercise really started to cook. Mrs. Sheraine Gunnoe belted out a powerful, rafter-rattling a capella version of the “Star-spangled Banner,” and a little later, Timothy “Dean” Brummett, Jr., brought his classmates and the house to its feet with his moving performance of “Long Black Train.”

“They asked me to do this at the last minute,” Brummett said as he walked to the speaker’s podium with his head bowed in humble repose. He sang with a sound track, and at the bridge in the song that is traditionally filled with a lead instrument, Brummett sent a personal message. “Class of 20-10, I just hope you keep the Lord near and dear to you.”

All three commencements were special moments. In addition to Hill, PikeView Salutatorian, Kristie Taylor, told the audience that her most unforgettable moment came the one and only time she was placed on detention, “thanks to the Class of 2010.”

Hill is the son of Dr. David Hill and Paula Brooks of Athens. He is a National Merit Finalist who plans to attend Auburn University and major in Physics and Electrical Engineering. Taylor is the daughter of Paul and Caroline Taylor of Spanishburg. She plans to attend a four-year university and study pre-medicine. PikeView’s commencement was held in the sanctuary of the Princeton Church of God.

Speakers in addition to Denver at the PSHS commencement included Rami Zein who delivered the valedictory address and Obada Ghabra who delivered the salutatory address. Zein is the son of Mahmoud Zein and Dr. Al-Attar of Princeton. He plans to attend Georgetown University and study medicine. Ghabra is the son of Dr. Nabeel and Mayra Ghabra of Princeton. He plans to attend the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and study medicine.

Sarah Shrader delivered the valedictory address at MHS and Jessica Harvey presented the salutatory address. Shrader is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Shrader of Bluefield. She plans to attend West Virginia University and major in Education. Harvey is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Harvey of Bluefield. Harvey plans to attend Concord University in Athens as a Pre-Pharmacy major.

Dr. Deborah Akers, superintendent of Mercer County Schools as well as several members of the county school board attended each of the commencement exercises. There were 219 graduates at Princeton Senior High School, 98 graduates at PikeView High School and 55 graduates at Montcalm High School.

– Contact Bill Archer at

Greg Jordan of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph staff assisted with this article.


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