Small is big at Fannett-Metal graduation

June 09, 2006|by DON AINES

WILLOW HILL, Pa. - There are advantages to life in a small community and an education at a small school, as several of the 42 graduating seniors in the Fannett-Metal High School Class of 2006 could attest.

"You get a better one-on-one with the teachers," Leslie Filer said.

"Everybody's your friend ...You know all the teachers. Wonderful teachers," Brandon Shoemaker said.

"You can't get lost," Lauren Hammond said.

On a warm night in a humid and packed gymnasium, the graduates' names were called out and they crossed the stage to accept their diplomas before cheering family and friends. At this school near the northern tip of Franklin County, some things have not changed much in half a century.

"We knew everyone. We were friends and family with everyone," said Nancy Hockenberry, Class of 1960, who was there to see her grandson, Eric Jones, graduate. "I think it's better when you go to a small school," she said, standing next to her high school sweetheart and husband, Paul.


There will be one change next year. English teacher Patricia Campbell is ending a long career.

"She was my teacher, too," Hockenberry said.

Like the more than 500 students who will graduate tonight from Chambersburg Area Senior High School, the Fannett-Metal Class of 2006 is also embarking on their journey into adulthood. Valedictorian Beth Pheasant told her classmates that President John F. Kennedy once remarked that the Chinese character for crisis embodies both the words danger and opportunity.

"Beware of the dangers and seize the opportunities facing you," Pheasant said.

"An outstanding individual who, when an opportunity comes knocking, takes full advantage of it," Principal Bradley L. Ocker said of Pheasant after the ceremony.

During his recitation of awards and scholarships earned by the seniors, Pheasant's name came up 13 times.

She was not the only academic achiever in her class. Ten of the 42 graduates - 24 percent - are members of the National Honor Society.

Class President Katelyn Dovey recalled some of the lighter moments and pranks of their four years together.

"A little bit of laughter can even make a field trip to the sewage plant tolerable," Dovey said.

Graduate Bobby Ward noted one disadvantage of attending a small school.

"No football," he said.

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