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Smithsburg High teacher tells grads: Your success is our success

June 03, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Smithsburg High School graduate Bryan Eichelberger stares into the crowd at The Maryland Theatre Friday afternoon during the school's commencement ceremony.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

As Smithsburg High School's purple- and gold-robed graduates sat onstage at The Maryland Theatre Friday afternoon, they heard remarks from one speaker introduced as "the good witch" and another who, they were assured, was not a witch at all.

Salutatorian Katie L. Gigante played the good witch in the school's drama production of The Wizard of Oz in the spring of 2010, and valedictorian Vanessa A. Mackley wore a Christine O'Donnell-inspired "I am not a witch" shirt to the graduation rehearsal, Master of Ceremonies Edward Gift said.

During her speech, Mackley recapped her high school experience, touching on highlights like a basketball game the class held as freshmen to raise money, and less exciting moments, like trying to stay awake during calculus class.

"Even though our certificates are just pieces of paper, they signify an important accomplishment and a major step in our lives," Mackley said. "I know that I, as well as many others, are excited to move on, but our days at Smithsburg High School will always be remembered."

She advised her classmates to make their own choices and to do what they love.

"If you truly enjoy what you are doing, then your job will be a fulfilling occupation, not a chore," she said.

Gigante said that high school is about the journey, the memories and the life lessons learned.

"Five years from now, no one will ask you what your SAT score or your high school GPA was," she said. "What you will always carry with you — what will matter five, 10, or 20 years from now — is the person you have become because of your experiences."

The graduation ceremony also included an announcement of scholarships and awards the graduates had earned — more than $3.7 million in all — and a presentation of the class gift, a bronze leopard statue to stand in front of the school.

Chemistry teacher Amelia F. Irwin, who made opening remarks, spoke of her pride in the accomplishments of Smithsburg High School alumni.

"As you leave high school and move on to the next phase of your life, know that we are all pulling for you," she said. "From the first day you walked through our doors to today, we have wanted you to succeed. Your success is our success."

Washington County Board of Education member Justin Hartings had a similar message for the students.

"Having made this great investment in your education, your community will depend on you to deliver our babies, to raise our children, to care for our sick, to service our cars, to build our homes, protect our rights, educate our students, start our businesses, represent citizens and defend our nation," Hartings said.

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