South Hagerstown High grads told to figure out who they are

June 08, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • South Hagerstown High School Senior Salutatorian Umar Mahmood readies the class banner upon entering the gym for Friday's commmencement.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

More than 16,000 students have graduated from South Hagerstown High School since it opened its door in 1956, Assistant Principal Matthew Mauriello told the audience Friday as this year’s graduates were poised to receive their diplomas.

“I hope you all cry later and smile now ... and hold onto this moment before it slips through our fingers,” Valedictorian Maranatha Teferi told her classmates gathered in the school’s gymnasium.

As for their futures, Teferi advised: “Meet your challenges, pursue your goals, figure out who you are.”

Teferi was one of about 36 students to receive scholarship offers, which Assistant Principal Sherry L. Hamilton said totaled about $2.5 million.

Former Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, now with American Promise Alliance, presented a scholarship to Teferi, noting the senior’s 4.6 grade-point-average.

For a dozen other students, the next step in life is not college, but military service, Hamilton said, reading off the names of those who will be wearing the uniforms of theU.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.


Salutatorian Umar Mahmood drew cheers when he reminded the graduates that the Rebels “broke an eight-year curse” by defeating the North Hagerstown High Hubs in football this past season.

“Life is not a real world version of Twitter” or Facebook, Mahmood also told the graduates.

He urged them to be leaders, rather than followers, but not to “confuse your degree, your achievements, your qualifications with your happiness.”

“Excellence is not an act, it’s an effort,” Washington County Board of Education member Justin Hartings told the students, encouraging them to continue learning from those who can “help you do more than you think you can.”

Many may look back on their high schools years and remember them more fondly than the moment they graduated.

“The journey that led me here is sweeter than the destination,” Teferi told them.

She likened the class to a very large, diverse family.

“See you at the next family reunion,” she said.

South Hagerstown High School

Number of graduates: 292 (includes some dual graduates with Washington County Technical High School)

Valedictorian: Maranatha Teferi

Salutatorian: Umar Mahmood

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