BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVNS) – On Thursday night, May 9, local high school students across Raleigh County got their first taste of graduation.

The ceremony, held at the WVU Tech building on Neville Street, also included members of the Raleigh County Academy of Health Sciences and Technology.

Parents and friends lined up to cheer on the graduates of the academy, which focuses on the importance of STEM-related fields.

One of the guests in attendance was Beckley Mayor Rob LaPold.

It was a bittersweet moment for LaPold, who said it would be his last time attending as Beckley mayor.

“In three simple words, I love HSTA. Vicki Webb invited me to join the group on Saturday mornings about 12 years ago and I attended training sessions. From that moment on, my parents were there, my kids were there, and I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

Rob LaPold, Mayor of Beckley

More than 100 people gathered to cheer on 11 different graduates.

Following presentations by former alumni, guests were treated to live music.

The graduates then received a speech from WVU Tech President T. Ramon Stuart.

Stuart has been involved with HSTA since the 1990s and is happy to see people getting involved in STEM-related fields.

“These young people are stars, they have a light that shines brightly. They have a light that shines so brightly that it not only lights their path, but also lights future generations.”

T. Ramon Stewart, WVU Tech President

The event concluded with the students receiving the cord and final greetings from President Stuart.

It was an emotional night for graduates and retiring Academy member Vicki Webb, field site coordinator.

Webb would like to remind everyone that even though she is retired, tonight was about the future of these students.

“I'm just glad they're doing well. Sometimes, after you watch it and have some time to chat, it's time to move on to something else in life.”

Vickie Webb, Raleigh County HTSA Field Site Coordinator

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