Graduations come in many forms: high school seniors, draped in colorful caps and gowns, eighth-graders cruising the Potomac River in fancy outfits, fifth-graders partying during a classroom potluck.

Another school year ends. And there's plenty of excitement about what's coming ahead -- in college, a new job, high school.

This spring, more than 9,700 Montgomery County public high school seniors are graduating, a group shaped by the way their four years began: in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The attacks changed the way many students viewed not only the world, but their places in it.

Then, in October, 2002, the Class of 2005 had to face fear anew when a pair of snipers held the county and the Washington area hostage for three weeks.

But these challenges didn't diminish the spirits of the students, who went on to study and to achieve, whether in the classroom or on the playing field, with hopes of making their mark on the future.


Wheaton High graduates fill DAR Constitution Hall during their commencement.Whitman High School's Ariel Werner, above, addresses fellow graduates. Below, Karen Dempsey of Wheaton High gets help with her mortarboard from London Rucker.Vivaan Nehry, above right, and classmate Martha Marrazza smile for Vivaan's mother, Amu Nehry, before Whitman High School's graduation ceremony Monday at DAR Constitution Hall in the District.Manni Wang, left, captures the moment at DAR Constitution Hall as his brother-in-law graduates from Whitman High School.