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James Buchanan grads have heart, humor

June 12, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- James Buchanan High School's class of 2009 left behind laughs as its legacy -- from a fake marriage proposal to a tractor's arrival at the prom.

The class T-shirts included not only a list of the 171 graduates, but also a multiple-choice test:

The thing that is not tested at JBHS:

a) PSSA

b) 4Sight

c) the water

Krystal Leasure, Rachel Barrett and Tressa Donahue, all 18, said the aging building's shortcomings, including the brown water, are frustrating, but they found the atmosphere to be better than other schools.

"The kids and teachers seem more laid back," Barrett said. "There's more of a heart at JB."

"It's nicer," Donahue said.

Graduates donned green and white robes Friday for the commencement at the school's stadium. Principal Rodney Benedick encouraged the graduates to return for a visit and share stories of their successes.

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"We were able to watch them grow from adolescents into mature adults," he said.

Christopher Ardinger, the class's vice president, shared writings of John C. Maxwell as he talked about how to "turn adversity into advantage."

"Because of the challenges, we have already learned to take the bad and make it good," he said.

Valedictorian Kelby Reed encouraged her classmates to "take the road less traveled and be the difference." Salutatorian Benjamin Heebner recalled his mother's mantra that "the joy is in the journey."

Allen Fiddesop, 18, credited his family, friends, girlfriend and teacher Linda Rife for keeping him in school. He plans to attend Shippensburg (Pa.) University this fall.

"I thought I'd be done in 10th grade," Fiddesop said.

"It's a miracle it's finally over," said Cory Smith, 18.

Leasure, Barrett and Donahue said they will most remember participating in Relay for Life this spring. They contacted family, friends and organizations to help the event surpass its $10,000 goal for the American Cancer Society.

"I drank too much Mountain Dew, so I was really hyper," Barrett said.

James Buchanan High Schoool



Number of graduates: 171

Valedictorian: Kelby Reed

Salutatorian: Benjamin Heebner

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