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Wilson College graduates pass the torch

May 19, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

Click here for more photos of this and other Tri-State area graduation ceremonies

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Rain and gray skies forced Wilson College's 138th annual commencement indoors, but the sun broke through to illuminate an impromptu celebration on the lawn afterward.

Women from the class of 2008 grabbed some of the college's juniors to pass the torch by singing "We love you, seniors!" to them.

Then, all together, they clapped, jumped and sang, "We love you, Wilson!"

Speakers during the two-hour commencement ceremony on Sunday highlighted what they said separates Wilson from other schools. For Ruth Meg Oldman, that included observing lunches shared by international students, those in continuing education and women with children.

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"Only at Wilson would we have these opportunities and experience close friendships with people from these other programs," said Oldman, who delivered a senior class address.

About 10 children donned blue caps and gowns to walk across the stage with their graduating mothers. Wilson College has a "Women with Children" program that allows students to live on campus with their children.

"We became our own little network, helping each other out and baby-sitting," said Danielle Corring, who shared the day with 4-year-old Kalla.

Mom, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, started school when Kalla was just 13 months old.

"I walked my daughter to day care before class. It's a wonderful experience," Corring said.

"He's familiar with me saying I have to study because he's been here for three and a half years," said Kate Webber, who crossed the stage with Gage, 7.

Webber said that although her son was antsy during the ceremony, he had been looking forward to it for a while. She was grateful for the Women with Children experience.

"I definitely think more colleges should have similar programs," said Webber, who earned a bachelor's degree in behavioral sciences.

Commencement speaker Lois Lowry -- author of "Number the Stars" and "The Giver" -- spoke about how she ignored her college assignments while fulfilling her mothering duties, like making oatmeal. She had already dropped out of one school before finishing a writing degree at another at age 36.

"I didn't attend graduation because I had to drive one of my kids to summer camp that day," Lowry said.

She told the Wilson graduates that they are included in the dedication found at the beginning of "The Giver." Published in 1993, the book is dedicated "to all the children to whom we entrust the future."

Kimberly Maske-Mertz, who gave a senior class address, mentioned how she enrolled at Wilson to find a career that would provide a better life financially for her daughter.

"I wanted her to know the importance of pursuing a college education," Maske-Mertz said.

The ceremony for the 124 graduates and 55 teacher interns was not without lighthearted moments. Graduates each presented college President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson with pet rocks, and she proclaimed "evens rule" in reference to class competitions.

"Quite frankly, I've been looking forward to this day because it's quite rare I get to wear this kind of hat," Lowry said.

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