62 years of attending school in Leechburg ends Thursday for one Gilpin family
The Shearer family has had a student in the Leechburg Area School District for the past 62 years. But it all ends with this year's graduation.
When Dorian Paul, 18, graduates from Leechburg Area Jr.-Sr. High School on Thursday, he will be the last consecutive Shearer family descendant to attend and graduate from the district.
“It's definitely crazy to think about,” Dorian said. “I'm the last one of a long line.”
Dorian's grandmother Glenda Paul, 62, is one of eight sisters who attended Leechburg High. Her oldest sister, Elaine, started in the district in 1955, and they've been going ever since.
“It's kind of the end of the tradition,” Glenda said.
Lois Shearer, 85, and her late husband, Glenn, moved to Leechburg in the 1950s so he could take a job at Allegheny Ludlum, and the rest is history.
“I didn't grow up here, but when I got married and my husband was from this area, I came here and we set roots,” she said.
The family of 10 lived in Leechburg for about 15 years before moving to the country in Gilpin.
As Dorian's graduation approaches, Shearer recalled a life full of accomplishments.
“When I look back now, I just can hardly believe it,” she said. “I've gone to 33 graduations — college and high school.”
Dorian considers himself lucky to be so close to his great-grandmother. He looks forward to seeing her at graduation.
“It's definitely a blessing to have her there,” he said. “Some people never get the opportunity to have that happen.”
Dorian's great aunt, Kim Zimmerman, 56, works in the school cafeteria with Glenda and their sister, Kathy.
Zimmerman will miss seeing him every day, but she's excited for him to move on to college.
“It's bittersweet,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman's two sons, Justin and Christopher, graduated from Leechburg Area in 1999 and 2001, respectively. She's worked in the district for nearly 30 years and has seen many nieces and nephews come through the lunch line.
“If they owe money on their lunches, we pay them,” she said. “If it's their favorite meal, we pay for double.”
Dorian said he looks forward to seeing his grandmother and aunts at school.
“They put a smile on my face every day,” he said.
Although he's excited to be done with high school, Dorian said he will miss the close-knit feel of a small school district such as Leechburg Area.
He plans to study electrical engineering at Pittsburgh Technical College in the fall, but he hasn't ruled out coming back to Leechburg to settle down — and maybe start his family's tradition back up with his own kids one day.
“We'll see how it goes,” he said. “There's something that just draws us all here.”