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Goretti valedictorian urges grads to be nice to Mother Nature

June 05, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The award for perhaps the most captivating opening line of a valedictorian speech goes to the top graduate at St. Maria Goretti High School, who opened his address Saturday afternoon with this line: "Hello. My name is Dane Schiro and I am not wearing pants right now."

Schiro, who was wearing a kilt and white socks pulled nearly to his knees under his gown, focused his speech on the disastrous effects mankind can have on nature.

In his relationship with nature, Schiro said he is subservient - he's not, as the saying goes, "wearing the pants."

His passion for the environment has prompted him to attend Johns Hopkins University this fall, where he plans to major in environmental engineering.

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In his speech, Schiro quoted lines from the movies "Jurassic Park," "Men in Black," "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," "The Matrix" and "Lord of the Rings."

He urged his classmates and those in the audience to recycle, plan errands in a way that will reduce the amount of gasoline needed, plant trees and avoid using chemicals in homes and yards if they contain elements dangerous to water sources.

He ended with a quote from the movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."

"Be excellent to each other," Schiro said.

Schiro - whose speech was greeted with a standing ovation - was one of 62 graduates from the Catholic high school. The ceremony was at Saint Ann Church, behind the school.

Afterward, Schiro said he is happy to be graduating, but that the excitement is tinged with sadness.

"It's going to be hard to leave my friends," he said. "I think we all feel that way."

Emily Hovermale plans to head to the beach in a couple of days, and Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., this fall, where she expects to major in political science.

Because she did not need to take her final exams, a lapse between her last day of school and graduation lent the ceremony a surreal feeling, she said.

"It doesn't seem real," Hovermale said of being done with high school.

Emmett Lannon isn't sure what he's going to major in when he trades in his St. Maria Goretti Gael mascot for a West Virginia University Mountaineer this fall.

A highlight of attending the small school was the close bonds forged with friends, which he said created a family atmosphere within the school.

Still, one can't cast too many backward glances.

"(I'm feeling) a lot of relief to finally be done with high school," Lannon said. "It's been a long four years."

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