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CASHS graduation evokes range of emotions

Graduates' feelings range from eagerness to experience new life to wanting 'to find Neverland'

June 11, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Chambersburg Area Senior High School Valedictorian John Davis gives a shoutout to staff and classmates Friday during commencement exercises.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Best friends Lauren Matthews and Danielle Dietz fussed nervously with their caps and gowns Friday night before walking into Trojan Stadium and facing the reality that their days at Chambersburg Area Senior High School were coming to an end.

"I'm excited and nervous," said Matthews, 18, who plans to attend Penn State Mont Alto in the fall. "I'm kind of ready (to move on) and then I'm kind of not. It's going to be a really big change. We're going out into the real world now and that's going to be, like, overwhelming, kind of."

"I keep telling my dad that I'm not ready to grow up. I still want to be a little kid," said Dietz, 18, who also will attend Penn State Mont Alto. "I keep telling him that I want to go to Neverland. I want to find Neverland."

Chambersburg Principal Barry Purvis opened Friday night's commencement by welcoming the thousands of family and friends sitting in the bleachers at Trojan Stadium.

"I hope you will have pleasant memories about the time you have spent earning your diplomas, growing as a young adult and sharing laughs with your friends," Purvis said. "As with any school year, there are some tough times. Just remember whenever life becomes tough, those that must endure become stronger."

Chambersburg Assistant Principal Brian Hostetler said the last 13 years of education have prepared the Class of 2011 for future successes.

"The reality is that sitting here tonight, you've already demonstrated your ability to succeed," Hostetler said. "You've already experienced many of the same stresses, successes and struggles that you will face throughout the next chapters of your life."

Joseph Padasak, superintendent of the Chambersburg Area School District, told the 588 graduating seniors "to cherish the fond memories, remember the struggles, discover what you love and make it your mission to make the world a better place."

Senior class President Derek Burkhard quoted President Abraham Lincoln: "The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time."

Burkhard told his classmates not to take life for granted.

"Find something you love and run with it," he said. "Live every day to the fullest."

Student government President Mallory Cortis told fellow graduates that now is the time to find passion and purpose in life.

"These next few years will be the time to find our true calling," Cortis said. "Be determined to find what is perfect for you."

Salutatorian Chase Wennick said high school graduation is a turning point.

"Many consider (graduation) the real beginning of our lives," Wennick said.

He told fellow seniors to use what they had learned to become productive members of society.

Valedictorian John Davis gave a memorable speech that infused comedy and inspiration.

Coming from a huge graduating class, Davis took a few moments to introduce himself to several classmates that he failed to meet during his high school days.

"Ryan Benshoff, where is he? Ryan, my name is John. It's a pleasure meeting you," Davis said. "Kathryn Deardorff? Nice to meet you. My name is John" — and the list of names continued.

Then came the inspirational element of Davis' message.

"Bang. That, my friends, was the starting gun to the race of life. We're off — here we go," Davis said. "Each of us here is equally prepared as the other. Succeed, that's how you win — it's that simple."

Unlike Matthews and Dietz, Erica Dunkleberger said she is ready to move on with her life.

"I'm excited to get out and start experiencing life as an adult," said Dunkleberger, 18.

Dunkleberger will attend Missio Dei in Macon, Ga., a two-year school for missions and evangelism work.

The seniors' 2011 Color Day win was one of Thomas Loy's fondest memories from his high school years.

"I'll miss everybody. I saw these people every day for the past 12 years," said Loy, 17. "But I'm excited about going on to bigger and better things."

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Chambersburg Area Senior High School Class of 2011

Number of graduates: 588
Valedictorian: John Davis
Salutatorian: Chase Wenick
Class President: Derek Burkhard

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