High school graduates leery over economy

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WEST VALLEY CITY -- Hundreds of Utah high school students graduated Wednesday. The end of the school year marks a new beginning for the high school seniors.

However, graduates hope the economy won't put a damper on a new chapter in their lives.

Copper Hills High School students enjoyed the excitement as hundreds received diplomas Wednesday. Melite Ongolaka received a diploma for herself and an honorary diploma on behalf of her brother.

"I'm so blessed that I have his diploma in my hand and I could, I can feel that he's here with me. I'm just blessed," Ongolaka said.

Her brother died of a heart condition last year, just before his graduation.

Other students overcame many challenges to reach this point. For some, greater challenges may come.

Many of the students plan to enter the workforce to save for college, but the weak economy is causing them concern.

"I think it might be a little harder to find a job to save up," said graduate Rylee Padilla.

"I'm concerned about it," graduate Nathan Nethery said. "I've had to try to find a job. It's just something that you have to keep looking for, keep working hard for."

With or without summer work, many students still believe college is a must -- especially if the economy is slow to recover.

"You need it in this economy. I mean, to get a job, to get further in life, to be happy, you need to get education," Padilla said.

Administrators at Copper Hills say this was one of the largest graduating classes ever.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita


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