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North High graduates have it their way

June 10, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN

As Wendy Heyser - the senior class president and recipient of a scholarship from Burger King - walked across the stage at North Hagerstown High School to collect her diploma, someone in the audience shouted a little encouragement.

"Way to go, Wendy! Have it your way!"

And from the first strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" that opened their Friday morning commencement to the delivery of the last diploma, all 246 members of the class of 2006 were encouraged in various ways to have life their way.

Co-salutatorian Vincent Shoeck used a poem written by a former Notre Dame football player to encourage his classmates to make their lives worth remembering.

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Shoeck said looking at a tombstone had inspired the author, Alton Maiden, to write, "under the person's name it read both the date of birth, dash, and the date the person passed.

"But the more I think about that tombstone, the important thing is the dash."

"Make your dash count," Shoeck said.

Co-salutatorian Tessa Shank admonished the class to use the ceremony not to celebrate the past, "but rejoice in the future."

Valedictorian Hemagiri Arumugam recognized the teachers and parents who had guided the graduates to that point.

"Teaching teenagers is one thing, but raising one of us is something else ... to you teachers who are also parents, I commend your courage," Arumugam said.

And as always at North High events these days, construction of Mike Callas Stadium found a place in the ceremony - beginning with Principal Valerie Novak's observation that the graduating seniors were "the last class to have to drive across town for homecoming."

The class of 2006 donated $2,006 to the stadium fund - and $200 each to the school's library and Student Government Association.

Among them, they had collected more than $2 million in scholarships. Novak said 167 of the students plan to further their education, and she took a moment to recognize the 12 who plan to enter the military.

After the ceremony, new graduate Tori Stottlemyer proudly displayed her diploma as her equally proud grandfather, Russell Moser, snapped pictures. Having compiled enough credits to graduate at 16, she plans to study nursing first at Hagerstown Community College, then transfer to Berea College in Kentucky.

But Friday, she was only headed as far as Garfield's for a celebration with her family.

Lamar Harris said he plans to attend Morgan State University in Baltimore, and hopes to have a career in real estate. But his immediate plan, he said, was to "party ... I guess."

For her part, Heyser plans to study psychology at Virginia Wesleyan College.

But graduating from North High, she said, "is a big step - I'm ecstatic!"

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