Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2022 begins next chapter
After recent days characterized by heat, humidity and thunderstorms, the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2022 was welcomed to Kaley Field by sunny skies, mild temperatures and a breeze Saturday morning.
The June 4 commencement ceremony for the 238 soon-to-be alumni included music by the concert band, a performance by senior choir members and several messages before exploding with Silly String and confetti as they were declared graduates of Greencastle-Antrim High School.
In his welcome, Gavin Davidson, class president, recapped memories from primary, elementary and middle school, before delving into high school — including the COVID-19 pandemic that hit during sophomore year, bringing virtual learning and hybrid schedules.
“I could take half this speech and talk about what we missed out on, but I think we gained a lot more over that time,” he said. “We gained an appreciation for what our families, teachers and friends do for us on a day-to-day basis.”
The group was able to adapt and persevere during the pandemic because “our class has a drive like no other to learn more, do more and to achieve more, and that I say ‘thank you’ for,” Davidson said.
Learning doesn’t stop with high school graduation, and Davidson urged members of the Class of 2022 to learn about what makes them excited, push themselves and share their knowledge with others.
“That is the beauty of a passion, that’s the beauty of education,” Davidson said. “You don’t keep it to yourself, you bring it to others and share it with the world.”
‘Make a splash’
Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent, also talked about the pandemic in her remarks.
“This class has been a model for us as a community,” Hanks said. “Every time we had to adjust our sails for the changing winds, you adapted. You seemed to take every challenge with ease and perseverance. You made the best of every situation and never gave up. You continued to serve our community in countless ways.
“You lived between the real and virtual worlds, continued to nurture your relationships and hone your own skills — you kept your sights on achieving the goals you set for yourself,” she said.
“It is now your turn to go out and make a splash. You are writing your own story,” Hanks told the graduates. She added the best stories contain unexpected twists and they should be open to adventures.
‘When I can, I do’
There are five core competencies the district has adopted to fulfill its “Portrait of a Graduate” and Hanks said the day’s speaker, Vernon McCauley, is a model of those characteristics.
A 1974 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, McCauley is president of the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation and the voice of Blue Devil football.
During the pandemic he remained committed to G-A students and the community, most notably in the fundraising, construction and, in August 2021, dedication of Kaley Field Multi-Purpose Building.
Family and friends, who packed the stands on both sides and lined the fence at Kaley Field, entered through the passage in the middle of the building and, for the first time in recent memory, visited real restrooms instead of port-a-potties when nature called.
McCauley titled his speech “What’s Your Story?” and in a quick look at his own story, called moving to Greencastle at age 15 “the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned to love this school and I learned to love this town.”
It is now time for the graduates to begin to write the next chapter of their stories and McCauley offered them “Six Elements to Help Create and Shape Your Story.”
He started off with “select your circle,” quoting President George Washington as saying, “It is better to be alone than to be in bad company.”
Next came “recognize your role models” and “identify your values.” He also cited the district’s core competencies and added that faith and integrity will play a key role in their future. He said integrity is priceless and must never be compromised and “where there is faith, there is always hope.”
He encouraged the graduates to “define success” and “enhance your skills and talents,” before offering the final element, a Vernon McCauley original quote: “When I can, I do.”
He said that it means to keep going, don’t stop, don’t quit, don’t give up and don’t be afraid to fail.
He told the graduates he looks forward to reading about “your story.”
The graduates already have many stories to tell, said Principal Mike McManus. Of the 238 graduates, 113 graduated with honors, including 45 with grade-point averages of 4.0 or above. Some earned college credits, did internships or attended Franklin County Career and Technology Center or the district’s Franklin Virtual Academy.
Members of the class have displayed excellence in many ways, and McManus told them to continue to “chase your dreams and never settle for less than excellence.”
A peek at how the graduates are chasing their dreams was given with future plans announced as each came forward for his or her diploma.
The college list is long and diverse, from local schools like Shippensburg, Penn State Mont Alto and Wilson to elsewhere in the state such as Pitt and Duquesne to as far away as California and Hawaii. A sampling of intended majors runs from education and nursing to information technology and engineering to medicine and art.
Some members of the class are already in the workforce, with several Manitowoc welders, a barista, an HVAC technician and food service workers among the graduates. And nine, who earned the most cheers and applause from the audience and their fellow graduates, are entering the military.
Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at email@example.com