North Hagerstown awards 254 diplomas

June 14, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

By graduating as valedictorian of North Hagerstown High School, Helen M. Barnhart achieved a long-time goal and dream, she said during a ceremony Friday in which 254 students received diplomas.

In order to go far with her professional plans, Barnhart said, she strove to be at the top of her class.

"Standing among you now, I can say my dream has been realized," she said.

In her remarks on the theme of "dare to dream," Barnhart encouraged her classmates to dream and do all they can to achieve their dreams. When one loses the power to dream, one loses the power to grow, she said.


Later in the ceremony, principal Robert T. "Bo" Myers announced another way in which Barnhart will have an opportunity to grow: She has been appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Myers said the graduates have learned many lessons during their time in school, including the importance of hard work, being present and paying attention to details. If they continue to remember those lessons they should go far, he said.

An estimated 1,500 people attended the ceremony, with a standing-room-only crowd in the school auditorium and about 100 people watching a video telecast of the event in the cafeteria.

When graduating student Donald Davis crossed the stage, his grandmother, Shirley Davis, shouted, "Go for it, Donny!"

She then went into the cafeteria, where her daughter was watching, rolled her wheelchair to the big-screen television broadcasting the event and shouted: "We did it, Donny!"

"This is my first grandson to graduate," a grinning Davis said later. "I am so proud of him."

Salutatorian Adam M.A. Hote spoke on the theme of "be a first-rate version of you."

In preparing his remarks, he thought about how since so much in life seems to change so fast one needs something stable to hold on to, he said. Some say the solution is to hold onto your family but they, too, will change, he said.

"What can you hold onto?" Hote asked. "Yourself."

"That is right, I am here to tell you that individuality is essential," he said.

There is an irony in the context, Hote said, noting that he is speaking about individuality on a stage with identically dressed men and women.

Many worry about becoming popular, by the way they look or act or the kind of car they drive, he said. But he challenged the graduates to think about who they really are and who they want to be.

Who will you take into the new journey into post-high school life, he asked, the real you, or the person you think the world wants to see. Choose the former, Hote said.

Success is not getting the nicest job or the fanciest car, he said.

"Success is being able to like who you are," he said.

The students of the class have been offered $2.1 million in scholarships and grants, counselor John P. Gest said.

During the ceremony, Laura J. Douglas, president of the Student Government Association, announced that the association and the student class are buying a new, permanent message board for the school on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before the ceremony, four students stood near a fan in the gym, trying to remain cool before the event.

Jeffrey Hartle said he has mixed emotions about graduation, and his friends made similar remarks.

"I am kind of sad and kind of glad. I will miss some of the students and classes," he said.

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