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Spirits are high for Williamsport grads

June 11, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

The air was stuffy, but the spirits were high at Hagerstown Community College Thursday for Williamsport High School's commencement ceremony.

Students tossed their caps to the roof of the Athletic Recreation & Community Center and roared as soon as Principal John Davidson declared them graduates.

Roughly 1,500 people packed bleachers and folding chairs at the ARCC to see more than 180 sons, daughters, friends and relatives graduate.

Spectators fanned themselves with programs to circulate the thick air that filled the gymnasium. People who walked past floor fans stopped momentarily to enjoy the cooling breeze.

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For some, diplomas brought deeper relief.

Outside the ARCC after the ceremony, graduate David Petway said he's joining the U.S. Air Force in August.

"It's been a long haul and a challenge, but I can thank the Lord that he made it," his mother, Denise Petway, said.

Jessica Long, another graduate, said she'll attend HCC for its veterinary assistant program and hopes to get a job in the field.

"I've loved animals all my life," she said.

That includes her beef steer that was named 4-H grand champion at Washington County's Ag Expo in 2000.

People clustered around graduates they knew outside for photos and hugs.

Judy Brosky was part of the crowd. Then she went to get a congratulatory helium balloon and a stuffed dog dressed in cap and gown. When she came back, she joked that she had "lost" eight people in her group.

Brosky came to see her grandson, Luke Hintze, who played golf in high school.

"He's not going to rest because we won't let him," she joked.

Luke is attending HCC, "getting his feet wet," Brosky said.

Two student speakers sent their class off into the world with short motivational speeches.

"It is up to you to define success," salutatorian Aaron Buchman said.

He offered three components of his own definition: "friendship, morality and, most importantly, a relationship with God."

Valedictorian Benjamin Jordan said that people may expect his classmates to change when they graduate.

"But how many special people change?" he asked. "Let's use our past experiences and stay true to ourselves."

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