From the mouths of graduates ...

June 27, 2012|Bill Kohler

My job is pretty cool.

Not everbody gets the chance to say that.

True, it’s not perfect. No job is, unless it has something to do with ... say ... test driving Porsches at Indy, covering the Green Bay Packers or supervising the Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot.

But until one of those jobs opens up, I’m good with the day-to-day news gathering we do here at The H-M.

One of the coolest things I do is deal with high school and college graduations. (Reporters coast-to-coast are rolling their eyes.)

I know the graduations are not always the solemn, air-conditioned, well-executed ceremonies that principals and school board members hope they would be, but they are important to the students (well, most of them) and parents (well, almost all of them).

I assign the coverage for schools in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, and in Franklin and Fulton counties in southcentral Pennsylvania.

I also read and edit many of the stories and — after 10 years here and eight or nine before that covering news — that adds up to a bunch of graduation stories.

Funny thing is I don’t remember much from my graduations, especially the speakers. I just remember the bittersweet emotions. In college, I was so stoked about not being a poor college student any more (a year later, I was a poor college graduate) and joining my boys in Nags Head that I didn’t think about what was being said from the podium. Maybe I should have taken heed.

What I do remember each year is how impressed I am with some of the words that come out of the mouths of these young people.

So, I grabbed some of the best quotes from the few dozen high school graduations that we covered starting Memorial Day weekend in West Virginia. With appreciation to our reporters who did all the heavy lifting with their accurate reporting and video shooting, take a listen to voices of the past as they look to the future. Enjoy the wisdom:

• Greencastle-Antrim High School Valedictorian Lauren Jo Grove: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

• Smithsburg High School Valedictorian Abdul R. Latif: “Out there, no one will spoon-feed us. There won’t be parents to wake us up, or teachers and administrators to keep us in order. Out there, our actions will have consequences, and our success will depend on our own drive for it.”

• South Hagerstown High School Valedictorian Maranatha Teferi: “I hope you all cry later and smile now ... and hold onto this moment before it slips through our fingers.”

• Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School Class President Carrie Arvin: “Be courageous in what you do. Be the seekers of knowledge, and you will have success.”

• Hancock Middle-Senior High School Valedictorian Tiffany Younker: “Through perseverance, we can all enjoy life.”

• Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Salutatorian Elizabeth F. Fraser: “As a family should, you have all taught me so many things that will be vital in making big decisions in my life, and inspired me to do what makes me happy. I certainly hope that I’ve been as important to help inspire you, too.”

• Molly Brielle Potter, Class of 2012 president of Washington High School in Charles Town, W.Va.: The Class of 2012 constructed the walls “by creating new traditions and stepping into leadership roles.” Such activities, she said, “allowed us to establish our own DNA that identifies Washington High from other schools. We leave behind a legacy in the programs we fostered.”

• Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Senior High School class President Mat Levine: “We are all here today because of the incredible gift they have given us.”

• James Buchanan High School Valedictorian Austin Keller: “Surround yourself with people who can help you to lead a positive and productive life. Discover your own identity, and once you find it, use your gift in a positive and productive manner.”

• Aiyana Pellegrino, president of student government at Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Senior High School: “Don’t take the little things in life for granted. You never know what's going to happen tomorrow. Always give more than you take.”

Some solid words that kids of any age could learn from. Good luck to all of our young people as they spread their wings.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at

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