Endings and beginnings

June 07, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

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MERCERSBURG, PA. - Speakers at James Buchanan High School's graduation Wednesday frequently talked about the trepidation associated with change, and the valedictorian mentioned a fear previously unknown to him.

That fear, Dion Lehman said, came when he learned that classmate Alisha Nicole Keller was killed in a vehicle accident Feb. 18.

Keller's family was presented with her diploma on a night when the Class of 2007 announced more than $1,000 in contributions to her scholarship fund.


"As a personal note to all the graduates, keep a positive attitude, be respectful and follow your dream. Thank you, and congratulations," her mother, Annette Keller, said.

Under sunny skies and awash in green and white, many of the 191 graduates remarked that they would miss their friends.

In addition to friends, Beth Hawbaker and Lauren Dovey said they would miss some of the teachers and definitely English class.

"We had a whole bunch of substitutes the first half of the year, but then we got Mr. (Christopher) Barner," Hawbaker said. He made the class fun, but the students also learned, she said.

Some of the best memories were made on April's class trip to Clearwater Beach in Florida, Rusty Hughes and Lindsey Robinson said.

Another great memory was the March 21 PIAA Class AAA boys basketball semifinal game against Greencastle-Antrim High School, Steven Sowers said.

"I'm a big fan," he said.

When Lehman mentioned the rival Blue Devils in his speech, a smattering of cheers could be heard from one side of the Rockets stadium. Lehman, a Princeton-bound economics major, smirked and jovially paused the ceremony until order had been restored.

Lehman talked about lifelong struggles with fear, uncertainty and being overwhelmed - all feelings stirred up when realizing his speech couldn't be a "two-hour brainstorm and scribble like my strategy on most English papers."

He acknowledged that the roads from graduation would be different for each student.

"We are like a dandelion whose seeds are dispersed by the wind in every direction to grow on their own," Lehman said.

Superintendent Rebecca E. Erb expressed hope that change wouldn't catch the graduates off guard.

"I believe the young adults before us are better equipped to deal with (change) than generations before them," she said.

"They've included and cared for each other in times of celebration and times of tragedy," Principal Rodney Benedick said.

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