Class of 2014 graduates Greencastle-Antrim High School

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Under sunny skies and just right breezes, 214 students graduated from Greencastle-Antrim High School on Saturday morning. Families and friends filled the bleachers and lined the fences at Kaley Field on June 7 to cheer on the Class of 2014.

Valedictorian Colby Zarger told his peers the time had come to cherish memories and move on. He would remember watching soccer games from the sidelines and miss his friends as he went on to pursue his goals.

"I spend a lot of time thinking about life," he said. "Find what motivates you. My desire to live a life like Christ motivates me."

Zarger continued that through motivation, the graduates would find purpose and guidance in their lives.

Salutatorian Jane Eberhardt recounted that the most valuable lessons did not necessarily come from the classroom, but could be found in commitment, a smile, humbleness.

"Life is beautiful."

Beauty was deeper than appearance; it was in a struggle, confronting a challenge, in a laugh and in love, she noted.

"I pray you find beauty, happiness and peace in life," said Eberhardt. "Turn to God and know that he is good. Whatever your calling is, be the very best you can be."

Class president Matt Montedoro brought levity to the round of speeches. Because he represented the entire class, he called himself a Renaissance Man, with many talents and knowledge. He recited a long list of students and faculty he had once consulted for an assignment, but who were not very helpful. He refreshed the seniors' memories on amusing events that occurred through the past 13 years, including their early dependence on MySpace. And like the Biggie Smalls song, "it was all a dream". Time had flown by, so Montedoro encouraged everyone to reach for the stars.

Four points for life

Commencement speaker Joel Fridgen, executive director of the G-A Chamber of Commerce and a former school board member, shared four points to use for life after graduation. He called on the graduates to identify their purpose in life, which would give clarity and guidance as they prioritized their time.They should also tell the people who had made a difference to them, even if it was years later that they realized the impact of someone's mentoring and caring. He himself had benefited from the influence of 33 people and one God.

Fridgen asked the students to help the nameless, just as American culture had done for generations. The custom had been to try to make life better for those coming after. He referenced the soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago, and people who were willing to pay more in taxes to support the education of children.

"Are you willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the next generation, just as others have sacrificed for you?" he asked.

And though many might think certain days were over, Fridgen said it was not so. "You gotta do homework."

He stressed the importance of continuing to read and learn daily. To remain competitive in the work world, the youth needed that initiative.

"You have only just begun your education."

From the top

High school principal Ed Rife called for a moment of silence to remember the teachers who had passed away during the school year - Sam Forney and Kathe Whipp.

"He will always be remembered for his incredible dedication to his students and the band program, and she was passionate about mathematics and her students and would never give up on them."

Superintendent Greg Hoover took credit for the nice weather, just as he took blame for the bad weather causing 11 snow days over the winter. He told the grads the class was extra special to him, because his daughter Chloe was a part of the group. He had watched them grow since kindergarten, but their secrets were safe with him.

"Treat the next segment of your life as you did in kindergarten, with enthusiasm," he said. "Take advantage of every opportunity to learn."

The program was rounded out with the invocation by Pastor Jeff Ehko; the graduation prelude, processional, Star Spangled Banner and recessional  by the Concert Band, led by Jessica McKinstry; and a song by the senior choir members, directed by Ronalyn Bingaman with solos by Skyler Allen and Tabi Rudy. The Concert Band and Senior Choir led the audience in the alma mater. Diplomas were presented by school board president Brian Hissong and other members, while Rife and district faculty members called the names of the Class of 2014.

Family ties

The ceremony was special to the people observing. Esther and Glenn Crider came down from Shippensburg.

"It's a day of accomplishment for our granddaughter Alicia," said Esther. "We're here to celebrate with her and have a picnic later."

"Not to mention she's a good kid," added Glenn.

Tina Hudson, joined by niece Alex Smith, Waynesboro, watched her daughter Rachel Scott cross the podium.

"We're here to see our last child of five graduate from Greencastle," said Hudson. "I'm elated, proud, crying. I couldn't even read the program without crying."

From the other side of the stage, the new alumni had their thoughts on the day.

"I'm excited, obviously, to be starting a new part of my life," said Sarah Swope. "I'm so happy to be leaving high school."

Ben Buhrman was experiencing the ambivalence of event. "It has not hit me yet. It's great to start a new chapter in my life, but also bittersweet."

Young and old filled Kaley Field to find their special people after the two-hour ceremony. Faith Kling, 7, came to see  "Boo Boo",  her sister Savannah.

When asked what day it was, Faith responded, "Saturday." She eventually was able to pinpoint the occasion.

"It is her graduation and we're having a pool party."

Members of the Greencastle-Antrim High School Class of 2014 have likely heard many stories during their many years of education. On Thursday, the students who would receive their diplomas two days later heard a special parable from Rev. Doug Beltzner from the Greencastle Presbyterian Church during the annual baccalaureate service as a part of graduation.

Beltzner told the graduates and those assembled in the high school auditorium that they are all called after a Scripture reading of I Peter 2:9-12, which speaks of those chosen by God. “Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.”

The parable by Beltzner, titled “YOU’RE invited to UNbuild!”, told the tale of the journey by a woman carpenter who had been invited to dinner by the king. After being sidetracked by building shelters along the way, she needs to be sought out by a representative of the king who refocuses her to unbuild and to concentrate on the path to the king. “Trust the journey itself,” Beltzner said. “With love and trust put one foot in front of the other.”

Beltzner concluded, “May you feel the call of the king and be called to take new steps.”

Graduates Peri Penrod and Amber Kerstetter, from Beltzner’s church, led the call to worship. Senior choir members presented the benediction, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”, with music by Peter C. Lutkin. After a prelude of “Tocatta for a New Age” by Frank Erickson, offered by the concert band, it accompanied the hymns (”O God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “God Of Our Fathers”) and presented the processional (”Grand March” by Clare Grundman) and the recessional (”Fanfare and Recessional” by James P. Ployhar). The concert choir sang “For the Beauty of the Earth” by Ruth Elaine Schram. Ronalyn Bingaman directed the choir. Jessica McKinstry directed the band.

— By JOYCE F. NOWELL, Echo Pilot

Parable urges graduates to contemplate future path

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