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Chambersburg graduates celebrate their 'last last'

June 08, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Area Senior High School class of 2007 salutatorian Andrea Ritchie dared to say it.

"I would dare to say that the things we learned about life and relationships are more important than the formal education we received," Ritchie said in remarks to thousands who gathered at Trojan Stadium for the school's annual commencement ceremony.

Ritchie was one of 554 graduates to receive shouts of congratulations from the crowd that braved sweltering heat and threatening thunderstorms at the new stadium for the program.

"I'm sick of 'lasts,' and I'm sure all of you are, too," Ritchie said. "Tonight is the last last."

Valedictorian Cari Cline told her fellow graduates that it didn't matter what they did after high school as long as they put forth a best effort.

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"Don't let others discourage you from pursuing your dreams," Cline said.

Chelsea Varner, 17, wants to be the first in her family to become a doctor, and plans to major in biology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

"I thought it would be a challenge," Varner said as she and fellow graduates gathered in the gymnasium to receive their diplomas.

Brittany Vaughn, 18, said she was going to miss the social part of lunch, if not the food itself.

"I'm just going to miss my friends, that's pretty much it," said Vaughn, who hopes to be a special education teacher.

"I like kids," she added.

Lauren Zook and her best friend, Holly Browell, won't have to worry about catching up with each other in the months and years ahead because they both are planning to attend Millersville (Pa.) University.

"We've known each other since the eighth grade," Browell said.

William A. Barrientos, 18, said he was going to either enter the work force or enlist in the Marine Corps.

"This is a big day for me," said Barrientos, who enjoyed his days playing soccer and his friends, who he said gave him the nickname "Free Willy."

"I'm happy and sad," Barrientos said.

Michael J. Barry, 18, said he worked his way through high school, with jobs at Red Lobster and before that, Dairy Queen.

He plans to major in business administration and entrepreneurship at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a desire that stemmed from his jobs outside of the classroom.

"I took an easy year this year," Barry said of his senior year.

Senior Class President Clifton T. "Theo" Davis predicted that few of his fellow graduating classmates would be researchers or doctors who pursue a cure for AIDS or other advancement. But he reminded them that they easily could pursue a profession that recognizes such talent in other people.

"You may just inspire that mind," Davis said.

Student Government Association President Katelin Lambert urged her classmates to become involved in their community and be an active part of the change they might want to see in the world.

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