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Speakers urge fellow grads to make most of their future

June 06, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A class of 295 seniors received diplomas Wednesday night in a steamy gymnasium jammed with their families and friends.

The commencement was held inside as a precaution against rain. A severe thunderstorm slammed into Waynesboro about an hour before the ceremony was to begin.

It was so hot inside the gym that school Principal Larry D. Bricker announced before the ceremony that several people had become "distressed" by the heat and were taken to the air-conditioned library.

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The featured speaker was James C. Simmons, president of the class of 2002.

"Who would have ever thought that we'd be standing here tonight on June 5, 2002, in blue and white robes proclaiming that somehow we made it," Simmons told his fellow grads. "We learned to take the hard times and work them out together and make good."

Simmons said he spent four years of high school with some students while a few go back with him 15 years to his preschool days.

"We've grown, laughed, cried and experienced life together," he said. "Our voices have grown deeper and our views and perspective on life has grown wider."

Simmons' grandmother, Marcella Waltz, 80, cried with pride as her grandson spoke.

"He's always done well in school," she said. "His mother, Rena Simmons, died four years ago. She started him on his journey."

Simmons is an honor student, said Linda White, one of his teachers. "He was president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America," White said. "It has more than 11,000 members."

Tyler J. Rock, valedictorian of the class, cautioned his classmates not to waste their lives. If they consider what they are doing at the time to be a waste of time, he said, stop doing it.

"You have one life. Make the most of the time you have. Learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future. The road ahead of you is a barren field waiting to be developed," Rock said.

Rock spoke of the transformation he and his classmates have made from teen to adult. He urged them to thank those who helped them along the way - their parents, teachers and others.

To his own parents, Rock dedicated "all of my achievements of the last 18 years."

Bricker, in brief remarks, called the class of 2002 the best behaved group of students he's seen in the 12 years he's been at the school. Together, the class has earned more than $1 million in college scholarships, he said.

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