Williamsport grads begin new phase

June 10, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

Some of Nicholas Ceffalia's classmates already are dreaming of vacations, new jobs, military enlistments and college transitions.

The new Williamsport High School graduate also is setting off on his own - he and some friends have started a wood and metal fabrication business.

"I can make money now," Ceffalia said.

Air horns sounded as the Class of 2005 left Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center after commencement ceremonies Thursday. Students in white and blue robes exchanged hugs as their parents snapped pictures in the dying evening light.

Valedictorian Rebecca Gisriel told students in her graduation address they should "live for happiness."

Gisriel said success depends upon perseverance.

The College of Roanoke-bound graduate said she used to dream of receiving notification of acceptance from the College of William and Mary.


"However, that letter never came. I was rejected. Twice," Gisriel said.

Gisriel said she's learned where students go doesn't mean as much as what they do.

"I've come to realize that the name on a diploma isn't as important as the person who holds it and what that person does with it," Gisriel said.

James Furley, 19, who lives near Williamsport, said he already has made some post-graduation plans - he's headed to the beach.

"It feels pretty good to be out of school," Furley said as graduates searched out their parents outside the ARCC after the ceremony.

Furley, who works as a cook in a local restaurant, said he is planning to relax a little before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.

For some graduates' family members, letting go could prove to be a challenge.

"I prayed to God ever since he was born that God would spare my life to see him walk across the stage for graduation," said Bessie Little, Furley's 82-year-old great-grandmother.

About 1,000 parents and friends cheered as graduates received diplomas.

Along with Gisriel, co-salutatorians Joni Houser and Sarah Green also addressed the class of 183 graduates.

Some students celebrated their achievements in the bed of a late-model pickup truck.

"Part-ay!" some of the boys in the back screamed as the driver revved the engine of the vehicle, which sported both U.S. and Confederate flags.

As drivers waited to leave the college parking lot, some graduates lingered, talking and singing along to music.

Summer Boggs, 18, of Williamsport, who is planning to study business at HCC, said she is looking forward to starting a new phase of her life.

"I'll probably miss being with my friends and all the memories that we had together," she said.

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