HAGERSTOWN — There was no grandiose behavior or showboating across the stage.
The 13 members of the Class of 2011 from Marshall Street School/Washington County Job Development Program merely took their diplomas and were thankful.
“Personally, this has made me a stronger person,” Peter Kuczera told about 120 people Thursday during the program’s graduation ceremony. “I attended four different high schools within four years, which created even more stress, but I made it through. Although the path has not always been smooth, here we are Class of 2011, ready and eager to receive our certificates and get on with our lives.”
Students with disabilities attend the school, in part, to receive vocational training, and to enhance their reading and writing skills to become more employable in the job market.
When their peers at other schools are aspiring to go to college or take on other pursuits, the students from Marshal Street School/Washington County Job Development Program are striving to get jobs in areas such as lawn care, ushering at Hagerstown Suns baseball games or helping around the house.
“I’m moving on to a better life and better things,” said Erin McBride, 21, of Martinsburg, W.Va., before the ceremony. “I’ll be watching my dogs and cats and my cousins.”
“I’ll be working at the Suns games,” said David King, 20, of Hagerstown. “I’ll be ushering and taking tickets.”
Unlike other graduations with larger, more conventional classes, the students during Thursday’s ceremony were recognized individually. A small biography was read about each of the students, including the various programs they participated in at the school and their future plans.
The Rev. Ronald Kurtz, administrator of Julia Manor Health Care Center in Hagerstown, told the class during his keynote address that they would have to persevere in life — much as they have done up to this point.
“Just as you have shown up every day (for class) ... out there in the workforce you’re going to have to do the same thing,” Kurtz said. “It’s going to take courage to get up every morning, get dressed and go to work.”
The Class of 2011 used money that members earned working in job programs to buy the school two cash registers that future students will use as training tools.
The inscription on the registers read: “Success isn’t how far you get, but the distance you travel from where you started.”