Greencastle-Antrim Class of 2021 navigates challenges and is ready to sail into the future

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The stands of Kaley Field were filled like they haven't been in more than a year as 218 members of the Class of 2021 graduated from Greencastle-Antrim High School on Saturday, June 5.

The lifting of Pennsylvania's COVID-19 capacity limits came just in time for unlimited friends and family to pack the bleachers on both sides and line up along the fence to salute their favorite graduates.

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021, ready to enter Kaley Field for commencement on June 5.

"OK, my boy!"

"We love you!"

"Woo!"

Those were among the shouts from the bleachers when the names of graduates were called as they walked onto the field, where chairs were placed at a social distance. It was a far cry from 2020, when one by one seniors with just their families on hand graduated over the course of four days in individual 10-minute time slots.

Joe Eberhardt didn't say a word Saturday, but his face loomed large at his younger brother Sam's graduation. Joe, G-AHS Class of 2017, is serving with the military in Japan but was there in spirit via a huge cutout photo of his face on a stick displayed by his family.

Joe Eberhardt's face loomed large at brother's Sam's graduation from Greencastle-Antrim High School on June 5. Joe is serving with the military in Japan and could not attend commencement, but he was there in spirit with sister Jane, left, wife Jordyn and daughters Ava, 2, and Bryar, 3 months.

And speaking of sticks, Andrew Jackson, class president, noted that among the things the Class of 2021 missed out on because of the pandemic was competing for the Spirit Stick at the homecoming pep rally ... "which I think we all know, this class truly won."

In a surprise move, Dr. Ed Rife, high school principal, called Jackson to the podium and said, "I wish I could give your class that junior prom or the class trip you missed. I don't have those powers, but what I can do on behalf of the administration is to officially award the Class of 2021 that Spirit Stick you deserved to receive. You guys certainly earned it!"

Dr. Ed Rife, Greencastle-Antrim High School principal, awarded the Spirit Stick to the Class of 2021, represented by President Andrew Jackson. Classes normally compete for the Spirit Stick at the homecoming pep rally, which could not be held due to COVID-19.

Rife recapped academic honors, college credits and the $2.9 million in grants, scholarships and awards earned by the students "even through difficult times." Cheers rose from the stands when he cited the 13 graduates enlisting or planning to enlist in the military. And, he noted some of the extracurricular activities class members have participated in.

"More importantly, this class is filled with character, passion and dedication," Rife said. "They have learned to roll with unexpected challenges — rise above — and come out stronger on the other side. They are prepared to go into this world and make a difference, and we need them to do that now more than ever."

Magic spots and 'Setting Sail'

Jackson kicked off the ceremony with a speech that took his fellow graduates down memory lane, starting with the arrival of a big yellow school bus 13 years ago and some of the lessons they've learned along the way.

He reminisced about the magic spots at Tayamentasachta, fifth-grade field hockey and the "gateway to high school," the eighth-grade Cumberland Life Festival.

"Gateway to High School: Travel back in time with Greencastle-Antrim students at the Cumberland Life Festival

"Today, our years together have concluded in the most unique circumstances possible. It goes without saying that the last year of all of our lives has been interesting," he said.

"We used this year not as a way to deter us, but as a way to learn and be better," he said. "As the year progressed, things appeared to get better and our lives returned to some level of normalcy, which I know is a word you are tired of hearing. We did it. We made it. We did it together."

Jackson talked about the ability of his classmates to navigate uncharted territory, and Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent, echoed that idea.

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021, ready to receive their diplomas on June 5.

The district's theme for the 2020-21 school year was "Setting Sail," and Hanks said, "As with sailing, navigating toward a destination requires frequent adjustments to the course as the crew faces changing winds and rough waters. We, too were navigating a sea of changing winds. And through the rough waters, you kept your sights set on today, the destination."

On Saturday, the ship was turned over to the graduates and Hanks said, "As you set sail into your future, be ready to adapt and adjust. Remember what you have accomplished. When the seemingly impossible comes at you, drop anchor and assess the situation and your many resources. Stay true to your values and know that you are forever a Blue Devil and you always have a home in Greencastle."

Words of wisdom

Hanks' voice was new to Greencastle-Antrim commencement as she completes her first year as superintendent, but a familiar voice harkening back to middle school came from the graduation speaker, Mark Herman.

Mark Herman, retiring Greencastle-Antrim Middle principal and commencement speaker, and Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent.

Herman, who has been with the district for more than 30 years and is retiring June 30 as middle school principal, reflected on being asked to speak — "it has always been nearly impossible to ever say 'no' to a request for help from a student" — and impart words of wisdom.

"Why wisdom?" Herman asked. "That may require a bit of an explanation. It begins and ends with you. You are important. Each one of you is invaluable. You are irreplaceable. In fact, no one can be and do what you are uniquely designed to be and do. You are a special gift to us and to our world.

"As I told each of my children every night as they were growing up, and as I tell my faculty and staff at G-AMS, each year, so I will tell you today, 'I love you. I am proud of you. And, if I could choose anybody in the whole wide world, I would pick you.'"

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021, ready to enter Kaley Field for commencement on June 5.

He said, "Therefore today, I would like to give you a greater gift than pleasure, accomplishment, power, wealth and relationships. I would like to give you a gift of wisdom that, for me, has provided a full, meaningful and joyful life.”

His advice:

  • Be caring.
  • Be responsible.
  • Be merciful.
  • Be “all in.”
  • Be generous.
  • Be gracious.
  • Be reliable.
  • Be respectful.
  • Be active.
  • Be accountable.
  • Be trustworthy.
  • Be humble.
  • Be lighthearted
  • Be positive.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Be intentional.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be friendly.
  • Be thankful.
Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021, ready to enter Kaley Field for commencement on June 5.

"Finally, be filled with faith, hope and love. These three things will change you, they will positively change your family, our community, your workplace and our world. For where there is faith, hope and love, there will be a life of true joy.

"Thanks for allowing me to share these words of wisdom I’ve learned along the way," Herman said. "It just seemed like the right thing for us to talk about today ... not only because of our past history of shared morning conversations together; but also, because I care about you and your futures. It is my conviction that nothing may prove more important for your future joy than pursuing a life lived by wisdom. My hope is that each of you will seek wisdom and experience life as it was intended to be lived, a life full to overflowing."

Congratulations to the graduates: Entire district celebrates Greencastle-Antrim Class of 2021 during Senior Walk

On Kaley Field: Throw, run, walk and kick. Special Greencastle-Antrim athletes compete in G-lympics

Into the future

Each senior's name was read and future plans announced as they walked up to receive their diplomas. After the last one was awarded, Shannon Blanchard, school board president, declared them graduates of Greencastle-Antrim High School and the stadium erupted in cheers, flying mortarboards and explosions of Silly String and streamers.

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021 celebrated with Silly String and streamers after receiving their diplomas on June 5.

Members of the Class of 2021 at Greencastle-Antrim High School are:

Alexander Forest Abernathy, Davon Lynn Akers, Maxwell Dominic Alexander, Vincent Turner Allen, Aadi Charles Amadin, Sarah Morgan Angliss, Katie Elaine Ankerbrand, Taylor Morgan Appenzellar, Joshua James Armstrong, Angela Avila-Fernandez, Kaylee Alexis Barnhart, Peyton Loren Alexandra Barvinchack, Julia Teressa Baumgardner, Adriana Selaire Beeler, Rachel Adrianna Bell, Alexis Nicole Berthold

Levi Thomas Bingaman, Jade Catherine Blagg, Helaina Grace Blickenstaff, Hannah Elizabeth Boppe, Colby Jacob Bowen, Alysha Jade Boyd-Eaton, Mackenzi Elizabeth Branchman, Hannah Jo Brechbiel, Rebekah Kathleen Brown, Noah James Burcker, Thomas Michael Burk, Luke Clyde Burke, Alivia Rae Buterbaugh, Beatricia Ariela Cain, Ana Cristina Cantu, Kolby Ray Carr

Torrance Monee Clark-Walton, Zachary Kenneth Cole, Emily Ann Collins, Shayne Patrick Conway, Rebekah Naomi Cortez, Luis Kevin Cortez-Araus, Hayden Thomas Cummings, Keaton Eugene Daley, Gia Leigh DaSilva, Cole Young Davis, Corban Silas Davis, Carisma Lynn Dawson, Adrianna Lynn Dick, Lynelle Jalene Diller, Rylea Page Divelbliss, Hannah Louise Douglas

Kole Odell Drummond, Madeline Sarah Drummond, Justine Marie Duncan, John Joseph Dupcavitch Jr., Samuel John Eberhardt, Antonio Vincent Eckenrode, Timothy Alan Ehko, Dezmen Orian Eichman, Talia Nicole Engle, Justin Thomas English, Dominic Lucas Facchina, Madelyn Hale Farland, Seth Eugene Farrow, Enya-Marie Jaidyn Faulk, Anthony Alexander Fleagle, David Clayton Fogle

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021 showed creativity with their mortarboards at commencement on June 5.

Learah Jade Foreman, Stephen Anthony Fugate, Audrey Lynn Garling, James Riley Gembe, Christian Allen George, James Curtis George, Diego Adrian Gonzalez, Izabella Jazmine Gordon, Abby Marie Grosh, Amanda Elizabeth Grosh, Cesar Octavio Gutierrez, Joshua Steven Hagberg, Karisa Nicole Hall, Elisa Michele Hams, Ryder Winfield Hawbaker, Viktor Stephen Heffner

Nicole Fay Hege, Danika Nichole Heinbaugh, Reid Steven Helman, Zoe Kelen Hepfer, Dylan Christopher Hervieux, Ella Paige Hileman, Seth Richard Hoch, Sierra Nicole Holmes, Emma Courtney Holter, Abigaile Leigh Hoover, Lauren Bethany Hornbarger, Branden Damian Householder, Isaac David Ivosevich, Andrew Edward Jackson, Aspen Nichole Johnson

Cameron Cole Kingsley, Baeley Nichole Kipe, Madison Brooke Kirkwood, Brice Cameron James Kourliouros, Vinay Reddy Kunuthuru, Bailey Page Laman, Kristopher Ian Leiboldt, Bruce Lee Lepore, Andrew Jonathan Lester, Madison Paige Levreault, Thomas Richard Lewis, Xaivier Marquisse Light, Samuel David LoCicero, Dylan Scott Long

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021 showed creativity with their mortarboards at commencement on June 5.

Carlos Raul Luna, Hunter Boyd Maddox, Adam Jacob Maglio, Bailee Justina Martin-Iriving, Alex Landry Martin, Brent Charles Martin, Emma Grace Martin, Tanner Chase Martin, Cameron Cornell-Alexander Medina, Ruby Kaylene Mentzer, Isabella Rose Metz, Rachel Alison Michalsky, Jacqueline Taylor Susan Mills, Emma Marie Monday, James Allen Mongan

Michael Gregory Monica, Luke Michael Montedoro, Ashley Lynn Moore, Austin John Moore, Allie Nicole Morgan, Darren Johnston Mowen, Jessica Lauren Mumma, Nathanael Lees Mummert, Adam Joseph Murr, Jordan Eguene Myers, Adryan Ricardo Navarro, Tristen David Rylee Nunemaker, Blaine Cameron Ocker, Bradley Abram Ocker, Gunner Christian Pagano

Breaca Ardis Harlow Patterson, Calliou James Patterson, Anthony Joseph Pellicano, Wilmer Perez, Christian Eichelberger Pine, Tessa Lynn Piper, David Andrew Pittman Jr., Caroline Faith Poole, Ayden Alexander Poper, Jenna Nicole Forcinni Powell, Heather Ann Priest, Brennan James Reaves, Austin Jacob Redcay, Grady Lee Redman

Katelyn Anita Reiff, Kaylyn Grace Reines, Zakary Mikael Reynolds, Jordan Ford Rist, Emma Rachel Rohrbaugh, Molly Danielle Ronzo, Adam Joseph Root, Reagan Sharon Anne Rowland, Sydra Storm Royer, Hannah Elizabeth Ruffner, Cecilio De Vera Salazar IV, Adam Wayne Sampsell, Paul Steven Sanders, Megan Marie Schildt, Natalie Marie Schmidt, Landon Joe Searles

Carson Free Sellers, Jesse James Seuffer, Zachary Adam Seville, Autumn Bryann Shatzer, Grace Elizabeth Chen Shatzer, Laken Derae Shatzer, McKenzie Morgan Shatzer, Patynce Angel Shirley, Troy Dennis Shover Jr., Wesley John Shubert, Brandon Thomas Sidoli, Cameron Mikel Simons, Abigail Grace Singer, Joseph Robert Slate, Caiden James Smith, Mackenzie Nicole Smith

A message on a car in the parking lot at the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2021 commencement on June 5.

Carly Marie Stanford, Brady James Starliper, Brian Michael Starr Jr., Brianna Renee Starr, Dane Colton Steele, Jacob Lawrence Steier, Brayden Scott Stouffer, Hannah Abigail Stull, Jack Michael Sullivan, Katlyn Rae Taglang, Keiauna Dabree Taylor, Alexus Nicole Testerman, Naveen Thomas Ninan, Faith Nicole Todd, Alyssa Marie Tolbert, Austin Micheal Tolbert, Isaiah LeeSean Toney-Mayhugh

Kim-Ngan Le Tran, Adele Elizabeth Tressler, Blaire Elaine Trueax, Danielle Madison Tyler, Ashleigh Rosenda Van Winkle, Brenton Makael Welty, Nicole Irene White, Paige Victoria Widder, Sarah Johannah Wilhide, Sayge Koryn Wilhide, Caydin Lakeia Windle, Olivia Ann Winslow, David Ryan Witmer, Spencer Ryston Woodring, Taylor Joel Yoder, Abby Sue Zimmerman and Ryland Brady Zimmerman