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Williamsport High Class of 2012 finds strength, spirit as result of heartache

June 07, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Williamsport High School graduate Collin Linton waits outside with classmates minutes before entering Hagerstown Community College's Athletic Recreation and Community Center for 2012 commencement.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Williamsport High School seniors and their parents may have suffered heartache this year, but former Principal Henry L. Bohlander demonstrated the strength and spirit the Class of 2012 has during the school’s commencement Thursday night.

Bohlander — who retired in December and returned to speak during the graduation ceremony at Hagerstown Community College’s Athletic Recreation and Community Center — commanded the 212 graduates to spell out “CATS,” referring to the school’s Wildcats nickname.

Then Bohlander repeatedly told the students and others gathered to repeat it louder, louder and louder.

“It’s a real thrill to be here tonight. I have missed you very much,” he said.

Bohlander recognized the academic success of the students, including the 372 advanced placement tests the students took, as well as their athletic success.

He asked members of the schools championship Maryland Class 2A baseball team to stand, praising them for the last six games they won.

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“You can’t tell me there weren’t angels in the outfield” during those games, Bohlander said.

The class, who earned $5.1 million in scholarships, lost four colleagues during their time at the school, including Brendon Edward Colliflower and Samantha Rae Kelly, who were killed on May 5 returning from their high school prom in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Student Josh Forsythe died of cancer, and Brandon Walker died in a hunting accident, according to guidance counselor Randy L. Longnecker.

Current Principal April E. Bishop called for a moment of silence for the four students, as two empty chairs with graduation outfits draped across them represented the memories of Colliflower and Kelly.

Washington County Board of Education member W. Edward Forrest told students that the sense of community in Williamsport “will serve you well” throughout life.

Valedictorian Samantha M. Van Slyke said each of the students could probably remember something their parents would not allow them to do.

Van Slyke recalled that when she lived in Oregon she was upset over not being allowed to go to a pool to swim. Later that day, there was a severe storm. She said students come to realize their parents’ wisdom.

“Thank you for telling us we can do anything,” Van Slyke said.

Williamsport High School

Number of graduates: 212 

Valedictorian: Samantha M. Van Slyke

Salutatorian: Evan D. Hardy 

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