A little courage, a little fear for Smithsburg's new grads

June 05, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- One of the best things about this year's Smithsburg High School graduates, teacher Thomas E. Kitchens said, is that few, if any, were "too cool for school."

Everyone invested themselves in at least one class, activity or sport, Kitchens said during Friday's graduation ceremony at The Maryland Theatre.

Principal Melvin G. Whitfield, who started at the high school at the same time as this year's graduates, said he realized how successful they were when he heard a list of their accomplishments.

Speakers sent the 199 graduates off with praise and advice, plus a little humor from teacher Albert F. Ritchick, who quipped he makes up facts and he's scared smart students will catch on.


In her speech, salutatorian Katelyn E. Grossman quoted World War I pilot Eddie Rickenbacker, who said, "Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared."

Looking back on the fears of younger years, Grossman said, "Inside of each of us, there's a little elementary school kid terrified of big places and new faces."

But teachers armed them with enough information "to make the world a much less scary place," she said.

Valedictorian Bethany M. Garnand said the graduates "have completed our broad base of knowledge" and are ready to use it.

"We choose how the map of our life will develop," she said.

Garnand acknowledged classmates who died. Andrew Jones and Jacob Linthicum died during the past academic year. A third classmate, Jacob Dowling, died as a ninth-grader, Whitfield said.

"Although they did not get to sit with us here on stage today, we hope they have a much better view from heaven and I would like to extend my congratulations to them, as well," she said.

Normally, after commencement, the theater's courtyard would be flush with celebrating graduates posing for pictures. Rain dampened that, though.

Michael Blair Rishell's family stayed dry and took pictures under an overhang across the street.

Rishell said his next venture is a Maryland State Police cadet program.

"My dream is to be a cop," he said.

When Benjamin David Forrest's name was called during the commencement, he was congratulated on stage by his father, school board member W. Edward Forrest.

The elder Forrest, a 1981 Smithsburg High School graduate, urged students to give back, a staple of life in Smithsburg.

"Whether you're entering the work force, joining the armed forces or continuing your education in college, I would encourage you to become engaged in your community, wherever life takes you," he said.

Smithsburg High School

Number of graduates:199

Valedictorian: Bethany M. Garnand

Salutatorian: Katelyn E. Grossman

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