Waynesboro Area Senior High graduation filled with thankfulness and humor

June 05, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Waynesboro seniors Alex McQueen, left, and his girlfriend, Madison McDonald, right, share a moment in the school's cafeteria prior to commencement Tuesday evening.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduated 246 students Tuesday in a ceremony filled with expressions of gratitude.

Graduation speakers thanked family, friends, school board members, administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, classmates, cafeteria workers, information technology professionals and custodians.

“We are all here today because of the incredible gift they have given us,” Class President Mat Levine said.

The Class of 2012’s three valedictorians briefly turned the school’s gymnasium into a comedy club, as they told a series of jokes and humorous stories.

One of the valedictorians, Laura E. Ritenour, said that the school is a community unto itself. That prompted fellow valedictorian Eric Wengert to reminisce on the construction workers that expanded and renovated the school during the class’ freshman year.

“They liked our community so much they stayed an extra year,” he said, referring to project delays.

“Nothing brought our community quite as together as ‘Bieber fever,’” Valedictorian Kyle A. Schoeneberg said of popular music.


Together, the trio delivered a speech that turned from lighthearted to poignant. Schoeneberg fought back tears as he addressed classmates, who in turn applauded and cheered him in support.

“We’re leaving as the Class of 2012,” he said. “We’re not leaving the Class of 2012.”

The district’s new superintendent, Sherian Diller, showed the graduates her yearbook and told them she graduated in 1973.

“My, how things have changed — hairdos and everything else,” she said.

Diller told the young men and women to follow their hearts, saying they do not know what they are capable of doing until they try.

“These are the important years of your life, and you want to cherish them,” she said.

Principal Chris Dennis reminded the Class of 2012 it had the highest scores on Pennsylvania’s standardized tests among Franklin County, Pa., schools. He announced the class was awarded more than $3 million in scholarships and awards for post-secondary education.

Dennis also told the crowd he recently visited a kindergarten class to ask for advice.

“A lot of the kindergartners gave advice like ‘be good’ and ‘be nice,’ but I also heard some original ones,” Dennis said.

The kindergartners’ advice included:

  • Clean the house and work a lot.
  • Be nice to kids, and no robbing.
  • Help people when they cry.
  • Be good at driving your car.
  • Practice trying to ride a bicycle without training wheels.
  • Change diapers.
  • Don’t talk to people next to you at your new job.
  • Help people climb up trees.
  • Say “I love you.”
  • Don’t have your card pulled.

Johnny Gouge II, 17, said he was looking forward to graduating and moving on to the next chapter in his life. He hopes to work for Volvo or enroll in a diesel mechanic program.

Echoing other students, Gouge said Waynesboro’s school pride distinguishes it from other schools.

“I think our pride sets us apart. We have school spirit even if we’re not the best at events,” said Hannah Holscher, 17, who plans to study psychology at Shippensburg (Pa.) University.

“I’m excited and very nervous (for graduation), and not ready to grow up and be on my own,” Holscher said.

“I’m just remembering freshman year, and now I’m graduating. It’s hard to believe,” said Samantha Helsley, an 18-year-old who plans to study film and video at Penn State University.

Ryan Sites, 17, wants to continue working in the auto body field after graduation. Dustin Hess, 18, attended school part time this year to work, and he plans to install government security systems now that he has graduated.

Friends Haley Sites, 18, and Allysa Barkdoll, 17, were excited to experience graduation together.

“We’re throwing a graduation party together, so we’ve been planning all week,” Sites said.

The class’ size did not affect togetherness, Barkdoll said.

“We were all very close,” she said.

Sites plans to study elementary education at Shippensburg University, and Barkdoll enrolled at Chambersburg Beauty School.

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