Saint James School grads asked to treasure life

June 05, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Saint James School graduates celebrate Sunday at the conclusion of commencement.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

As they live their lives after their time at Saint James School, commencement speaker Juan Williams said his prayer for the school's Class of 2011 is that they surprise themselves.

In doing so, they will serve as an inspiration to others, Williams said Sunday. Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News who has been a Washington Post columnist and National Public Radio news correspondent.

Williams said his prayer for the graduates is not about pleasing anyone or meeting anyone's expectations, but "surprising yourself with your abilities, with your willingness to take on challenges, to be uncomfortable, to learn languages, to travel, to give up much ... to give up much for what is right and good in the world.

"Suddenly people are looking to you to see God's face. And that's why I hope that you treat your lives as works of art. Treasure life. Protect life. Love life. And understand that you, much like a sculptor, are shaping something, trying to give it form and shape that is useful to others. If you live up to that dream that I have for you, that prayer of surprising yourself, I think that you will find that you are truly an inspiration to all of us here today," Williams said.

The private, co-ed, Episcopalian boarding school south of Hagerstown graduated 50 high school seniors or, as the school refers to them, the sixth form.

Several awards were handed out, including one to Ashley Tolton for starting a tutoring program at Fountain Rock Elementary School two years ago.

"I have tons and tons and tons of cousins. Whenever I go home on break, I help them with school work," Ashley explained after the graduation ceremony. Thinking it would be nice to help other students, Ashley started the tutoring program in which Saint James students tutor Fountain Rock students on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"It's just nice to see their progress," she said of the students she tutored the past two years.

While Ashley, 18, of Fort Washington, Md., has graduated, the program will continue, she said.

Christiana Tiches, 17, of Hagerstown, received the Mary Latrobe Onderdonk Memorial Prize for sound citizenship.

"I'm so proud of her and she graduated cum laude," said her mother, Anastasia Tiches.

Heading to New York University to study journalism, Christiana said she was excited and sad because she was going to miss her classmates and teachers.

"(Saint James has) honestly been my home for the past four years," said Christiana, who also is the daughter of Charles Tiches.

Kevin McCormack, 18, of Hagerstown, said his experience at Saint James "transformed me into the scholar and gentleman" he is now.

"I'm the fourth in my family to graduate from here" after his three older siblings, said Kevin, who was 14 when he started attending Saint James.

The son of Michael and Diane McCormack, Kevin said he will attend Fordham University, where he probably will study communications and marketing.

Kevin received the School Prize for devotion to school.

Andrew Ludwick of Chambersburg, Pa., was awarded the Charles Meehan Jr. Prize for all-around athletic ability and the 50th Anniversary Alumni Award for his leadership ability. Andrew played soccer, basketball and lacrosse for the school.

Andrew will be attending Dickinson College and wants to join the Navy after college. He is the son of Gabrielle and Dr. David Ludwick.

Asked about his experience at Saint James, Andrew said "memories I wouldn't trade for anything."

Andrew said he will remember teachers like Aaron Williams and Karl Yergey, who were "like the fun uncles you always want to hang out with."

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