Smithsburg sends off 167

June 14, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

While his Smithsburg High School classmates chatted around him in a frenzy, Tim Gaines was serene as he leaned against a wall in a crowded hallway shortly before the procession into the graduation ceremony.

"I'm calm. I'm looking forward to it," said Gaines, 18, of Smithsburg.

"It's going to be a great experience, a great milestone in my life. I'll be with all my friends and out to see the world."

Gaines' girlfriend, a cousin from California and relatives from Virginia Beach, Va., had come to Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center on Friday morning to see him graduate, he said.


Assistant Principal Jeffrey Gladhill said 167 seniors graduated Friday. Two were not present to walk across the stage and get their diplomas.

"I'm a little nervous, but after it's over it's going to be worth it," said Kyle Minnick, 17, of Smithsburg.

Minnick is going to HCC and wants to become a paramedic. He is already an emergency medical technician with Community Rescue Service and a firefighter with Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co.

Meg Biser, 17, of Hagerstown, said before the ceremony she would probably cry at some point, but had different emotions when she woke up.

"I woke up this morning and began dancing, 'I'm going to graduate. I'm going to graduate,'" Biser said.

Even the hot hallway couldn't cool Biser's excitement as she wiped water from a drinking fountain on the back of her neck to try to stay cool. The graduates wore long-sleeved gowns - gold for the girls and purple for the boys.

Valedictorian Lacy M. Howard began her speech by saying what a special day it was. Not only was it graduation, but Friday was senior Elena Adlon's birthday. Howard asked Adlon to stand up so everyone could applaud her.

Whether you were popular in high school or treated as the new kid, graduation is a chance to start fresh, said Howard, 18, of Smithsburg.

For those leaving family and friends behind as they pursue their endeavors, this could be one of the loneliest times in life, Howard said. But it also is "the most real and most exciting," she said.

Jessica Viar, 18, of Smithsburg, had mixed emotions.

"I'm sad. I'm happy at the same time, but it feels great and I feel free," said Viar, who is going to attend HCC.

Earlier, co-salutatorians Brian P. Downey and Stephen J. Kurz walked on stage and kidded each other before giving separate speeches.

Kurz joked about the things the students will miss dealing with, including parking tickets, fire drills and standardized tests.

Downey, 17, of Smithsburg, reminded Kurz they were to give a graduation speech, so Kurz started speaking in Latin.

In his speech, Downey told his classmates that "ultimately, each person is responsible for their own decisions." You cannot go through life always trying to please others, he said.

Kurz, 18, of Smithsburg, reminded everyone they were missing Karen Worthington, a Clear Spring High School graduate who took Latin at Smithsburg High. Worthington was recovering from surgery after a car accident, he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with you," Kurz said.

He said anyone who wants to donate blood in Worthington's name can do so through the American Red Cross.

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