Greencastle-Antrim High School graduates presented diplomas
The 221 graduates in the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2011 could not escape their kindergarten days. Both superintendent Dr. C. Gregory Hoover, and former superintendent and speaker, Dr. P. Duff Rearick, referred to 1998 during graduation ceremonies Saturday morning.
Hoover had witnessed the first day of school for the seniors 13 years ago, and watched the current kindergartners hug every adult within arms' reach on their last day of school Thursday. The seniors weren't quite that expressive when they exited the high school after finals.
"What happened over the years? You're still cute, though," he assured them.
Rearick was in the district their kindergarten year too, and thought nothing was more fun than watching the youngest students begin their education with such excitement.
He addressed the class, and their parents, families and friends filling bleachers on both sides of Kaley Field June 11. While spectators fluttered their programs as fans in the warm sun, Rearick told the students they were leaving "an awesome school district. You are well-prepared."
He asked what their life's legacy would be. It all came down to choices, which were harder the older they got. They could be either givers or takers.
"Is the world going to be a better place because you are here?" Rearick challenged.
An array of starfish had washed upon the shore, many already dead. A man threw a young one back into the sea, seemingly a silly gesture. His justification - it made a difference to that one.
Rearick used the story to encourage the young adults to decide if they believed in justice, mercy, humility and love. Those traits exemplified giving, and would matter daily throughout their lives.
"It all comes down to what you believe, not what you know," he said.
Valedictorian Sarah Jansen congratulated her peers for surviving 67,208,000 seconds of class time. As she considered what to talk about, she had perused the yearbook for ideas, but found that 'Jersey Shore' was a favorite television program for many of them.
"That ended my yearbook venture," she said.
She looked online for a graduation speech to poach, but only one was available, for $14.56 on eBay. And so she wrote her own.
"Life is short," Jansen began. "Why waste your time doing something you hate?"
She urged everyone to build healthy relationships, help others, do what they love, set goals and have fun. In 10 years no one would care who they were now, so be open to reinvention in the changing world.
And her farewell, taken from actor Will Farrell, was, "Stay classy, G-A."
Class president Stephen Herman recalled memorable moments - Taco Bell runs; Blue Devil pride for achievements in music, arts and athletics; and academic honors. He quoted advice from King Solomon and concluded, "Or as my mom would say, 'Be wise and be a good listener.'"
Hoover added his counsel. "Take advantage of opportunities. Make good choices. You've made us proud."
Principal Ed Rife introduced 23 members of the Class of 1961, the first group to graduate from the same school campus. They had some words for their successors, 50 years later. "Don't always take the easy way. What you do makes a difference. Give back to the community. We build the ladder on which we climb. Build it well."
Rife shared accomplishments of the Class of 2011. Fifty-four earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher, 31 completed their coursework in January, three graduated a year early, 15 were entering the military, as a whole they received $854,595 in scholarships and awards. They were the first class Rife followed all four years after he was promoted to principal.
"I will always remember your character, passion, faith and dedication. You knew how to have fun."
Five Forks Brethren in Christ pastor Buck Besecker prayed that the young men and women would have wisdom and a desire to use what they learned to be a blessing to others.
What the day meant
Jared Mowen felt wonderful after commencement. "The last 13 years led up to this. I'm going back to my house to eat and play volleyball. But first I'm going to burn out of the parking lot."
Sarah McCanuel, planning to major in nursing, looked forward to a cookout with her family to celebrate the day. April Seville was ready for the next step in her life. "I'm glad high school is over. I feel awesome."
Skylar Schade thought there was too much silly string after school board president Joel Fridgen declared the class duly graduated from G-AHS. The string, confetti and beach balls then erupted out of nowhere in the area where the seniors had moments before been sitting with dignity. Schade was honored that his middle school math teacher Kim Morrow had attended, and shown him the charm he gave her while a student. And as to his future, "I want to make millions."
Family members also found meaning to the day. Jerry and Gloria Sydow drove from California to Wisconsin to pick up Eric Metz' grandmother Grace Nitz for the big event. They said of their nephew and godson, "It's another step for him."
Stan Spain keep cool under a straw-brimmed hat as he watched for great-nephew Jacob Carbaugh in the procession. "It's good to see him graduate. I have no children of my own, so this means more to me than to some."
Grandparents of Ashley Sowers on both sides of the family sat together. Glenn and Betty Sowers and Jim Pentz were proud of her accomplishments.
Candy DeShong was excited for the future of her youngest child, Drew. Rich Wolff was also experiencing the end of an era as daughter Wendy finished her high school career. "This is my last one. It's been an emotional week. It's a milestone, but I wonder what I'll be doing with all my free time now."