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WASHS grads reach one of 'life's great destinations'

June 09, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

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WAYNESBORO, PA.-They were fidgeting like anxious kindergartners awaiting recess, but the 232 students in Waynesboro's high school gymnasium were seniors moments away from graduation.

They sipped water, pulled the bottoms of gowns up, slipped off shoes and fanned themselves with programs in a ceremony as humid as it was poignant.

Friday's graduation was the 125th annual ceremony honoring academic accomplishments at Waynesboro Area Senior High School, a school that the class of 2007 said is defined by its people and atmosphere.

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"We have a sense of comradeship. ... People look out for each other," Harrison Frantz said.

"Seniors get a lot more respect here," R.J. Finafrock said.

Frantz said he woke up Friday morning and thought that it "might be the last time I get to see some of my close friends."

Susan Fike was thinking about her first day as a freshman, a time when she was more nervous than on graduation night.

Even without classes, waking up still came early for Frantz, Fike and their fellow graduates on Thursday and Friday, with two days worth of 8 a.m. graduation practices. They hugged and joked as the minutes passed before the 6:30 p.m. ceremony.

Holly Myers and Nakita Ray laughed when Myers said, "I actually am thinking I might be missing the mashed potatoes days."

"I'll miss our advisory board," Casey Staley said, explaining that "it's supposed to be a quiet study hall."

"A couple of the guys did a strip dance for Ms. (Concetta) Maryjanowski for her 50th birthday," Joanna Smith said.

Class President Karen N. Bowie, who recently was recognized for completing more than 700 hours of community service, talked about the graduates' experiences as a journey in her address.

"We have just reached one of life's great destinations," she said.

Bowie discouraged wasting time getting angry about "life's inconveniences," and reminded the crowd about the importance of attitude.

"I'm convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we react to it," Bowie said.

One of the "inconveniences" was the ongoing high school construction project, but it is making a better facility for the future, Bowie said.

"You'd be amazed at how resilient and persistent the students and faculty have been" with construction, Principal Jon Bilbo said.

"Our school looks like a disaster but is, in reality, a work in progress," valedictorian Meghan C. VonRembow said.

The principles learned from the construction efforts can be applied to life outside school, VonRembow said.

"Try to leave things better than you found them," she said.

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