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Smithsburg graduates 181

June 12, 2004|By LAURA ERNDE

Smithsburg High School's class of 2004 will leave a patriotic legacy to future students - an American flag for display in the gym.

Class President Samantha A. Schweinhart said the class gift was given on behalf of the nine seniors who chose to go into the military after graduation.

"People who do this are selfless," she told a crowd that jammed The Maryland Theatre for the school's 90th commencement exercises on Friday.

The audience responded with a round of applause.

Senior Stephanie L. Plummer is among those headed for the service. She's been accepted to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and leaves in two weeks.

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"I've always wanted to serve my country," said Plummer, whose grandfather was in the Navy.

The 181-member class excelled in academics, Principal Valerie Novak said.

Its average Scholastic Aptitude Test scores of 552 for verbal and 557 for math were the highest of any school in the county, she said.

Graduating seniors have been offered $3.8 million in scholarships, she said.

Seniors chose a unique location in the 89-year-old Maryland Theatre, she said.

As the house lights were dimmed, graduating seniors filed into the theater and onto the stage. Each carried a single white rose, representing the class flower.

Hundreds of flashbulbs popped as the seniors in purple and gold gowns took their place on stage.

The ceremony began with a moment of silence for Ronald Reagan. Friday was a national day of mourning for the late president.

Salutatorian Elizabeth A. Sturgeon told seniors they will be remembered for their actions long after their names are forgotten.

"Even the little things influence how well we'll be remembered," she said. "What each and every one of us does in life will echo in eternity."

Valedictorian Bernadetta Puszkiewicz said she and her classmates have spent the last four years trying to fit in with their friends.

"We put on masks and showed others what they wanted to see. Many of us became too dependent on those masks," she said.

Now, graduates will discover who they are and where they want to go.

Before the ceremony, three brothers from Shepherdstown, W.Va., huddled under an umbrella in the rain selling bunches of red roses. One of them, Michael Beltrami, said the profits would be used to help needy families.

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