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South High grads already miss friends

June 05, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- For the high school graduation, a Dr. Seuss quote from the principal.

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go," Principal Richard Akers recited Friday morning at the beginning of South Hagerstown High School's graduation ceremony.

Akers promised a brief speech, employing another quote, this one from cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

"Commencement speeches," Trudeau had said, "were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated," Akers told the crowd.

Moments later, guest speaker Wayne Ridenour, president of the Washington County Board of Education, told the crowd he also had planned to open with the Trudeau quote.

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Forty years ago, he was sitting in the seventh row, about to graduate from South High, Ridenour said.

The graduates focused less on pithy quotes and more on remembering friends.

Emily Forrester "had a ball" in high school and will miss her friends next year when she goes to Virginia Tech to study in a pre-veterinarian program, she said after Friday's ceremony.

Many of the graduates started going to school together in kindergarten, salutatorian Anne Kraft said in her speech. Now, they all are setting off on their own to do different things, she said.

Kraft reminded her graduating class to thank everyone who saw them through school, from the cafeteria workers to teachers and family.

"Where would you be without your parents?" valedictorian Long Luu asked the graduates. He dedicated his speech to his parents, Luu said.

"Thank you and have a good long life," Luu said at the end his commencement speech, throwing one of his arms in the air.

Before the ceremony, Jarrett Wolfe said he would miss his friends the most next year, when he starts the ROTC program at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

"The one thing I love the most is being around them every single day," Wolfe said. "Now that it's gone, it's going to be a really hard feeling for me."

Assistant Principal Sherry Hamilton recognized all of the students who earned scholarship money and awards to further their education -- a combined $797,262, she said.

She also recognized, by name, the 14 students joining the military.

Cory Shank, who didn't miss any of the 2,340 days of school from kindergarten to graduation, was given a standing ovation by the crowd packed into the school's auditorium.

Nick Ziolkowski plans to attend Salisbury (Md.) University next year.

In high school, "I love having a good time with everybody, meeting people. This is where I grew up. I'm happy around here," he said.

South Hagerstown High School



Number of graduates: 258

Valedictorian: Long T. Luu

Salutatorian: Anne J. Kraft

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