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Shippensburg holds winter graduation

December 17, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

SHIPPENSBURG, PA. - "By the power vested in me by the governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania ..."

As G.F. "Jody" Harpster, interim president of Shippensburg University, began to speak, around 400 hands grabbed the clusters of strings swinging by their faces, and waited for the seven words that would make the past few years of their lives worthwhile.

"Graduates," he said, pausing and allowing the moment linger. "You may now change your tassels."

Heiges Field House erupted with applause Saturday as the December 2006 graduates of Shippensburg's baccalaureate and master's programs changed their tassels and began the next phase of their lives.

Before the graduates could burst out the doors to "freedom," as one grad put it, they were challenged by Episcopalian Bishop Nathan Baxter, who was guest speaker for commencement.

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"Graduates of 2006, I want you to make real money and make your professional mark, but for America's sake and for God's sake, help us make peace," Baxter said.

Acknowledging the people before him as the future of the world, Baxter spoke of progress and peace.

"Class of 2006, will you be genuinely committed to winning the peace?" Baxter asked. "Today, I will give you a peacemaking kit, my gift to you."

The kit offered by the third generation clergyman was a request for the graduates to do three simple things - vote, make friends across the lines of race and culture, and become involved.

"Don't be so busy you don't have time to be involved," Baxter said.

While many of the people wearing caps and gowns on Saturday nodded along with Baxter's words, most could not wait to walk out into the world a graduate.

"I feel like a million bucks," Robert Giacomucci Jr. of West Chester, Pa., said after receiving his bachelor of science degree in marketing.

"I am excited and honored," said Tara Moore of Tyrone, Pa., a master of science recipient.

According to the program, 672 students earned their degrees in December.

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