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Boonsboro ceremony bittersweet for this year's grads

June 10, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN

Katelyn Webb waited patiently for her family to join her Friday morning for Boonsboro High School's graduation ceremony outside the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College.

"My brother, John Webb, is graduating, and I'm really proud of him," said 16-year-old Katelyn, who will be a junior at Washington County Technical High School in the fall.

By the time things finally got under way, the ARCC was packed with graduates, faculty, family and friends.

The mood was bittersweet for many of the 200-plus graduates of the class of 2006 as they celebrated their commencement while also mourning three classmates who died during the school year.

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A page in the graduation program was dedicated to Michael Abell and Jonathan Barnes, who died in a fire in December 2005, and Daniel Dabbondanza, who lost his battle with a rare genetic disorder in May.

The three missing classmates also were alluded to in the speeches of valedictorian Laura Michael and salutatorian Erin Gantz.

Michael challenged her fellow graduates to seek out the purpose for their lives, "a way to make a difference."

"Never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to help someone," Michael said.

Gantz encouraged her classmates to journey back in time to freshman orientation.

"We all became hopelessly lost, even though we had a map," Gantz said.

Now that they have graduated, the class of 2006 needs to remember that every map has a legend - it could have been a teacher's suggestion or a friend urging you to join a club, Gantz said.

"All these were glimpses of what we want to be, and today, we have reached the edge of that map," she said. "You have the knowledge ... it's up to you to make it wisdom."

Gantz said she used to be scared of graduation day, but now she is certain she and her classmates are on the right path.

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