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Harvard College official advises Saint James graduates to 'keep your friendships in good repair'

June 02, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Marlyn E. McGrath, director of admissions at Harvard College, delivers a commencement address Sunday at Saint James School.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

ST. JAMES — The importance of friendship and family was among the topics commencement speaker Marlyn McGrath touched on Sunday at Saint James School.

McGrath said she wasn’t going to “offer lessons” during her speech, but she did tell the 39 graduates to “keep your friendships in good repair. They are what matter in life and who knows what they will bring you.”

McGrath is director of admissions at Harvard College and tutored Saint James’ headmaster, the Rev. Stuart Dunnan, when he was an undergrad at Harvard’s North House, he said.

After the ceremony, some of the local graduates spoke of the friendships they made during their time at the Episcopal boarding school south of Hagerstown.

“I’ve never had friends like this,” said Brett Vitkun, 17, of Williamsport.

Though he’ll be studying at Centre College in Kentucky in the fall, Vitkun said his friends at Saint James are like family.

Vitkun said he will study physical therapy and biology at Centre College. He also will play for the Colonels’ baseball team.

Leighton Younger, 17, of Hagerstown, and Claira Winget, 18, of Frederick, Md., are heading to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

“It’s very bittersweet. ... I’m going to miss a lot of these guys,” Younger said.

Younger participated in football, wrestling and lacrosse at Saint James. He plans to play lacrosse and study business at Rhodes.

Robert Leatherman III, 18, of Hagerstown, said he will be studying at West Virginia University.

“I’m ready to start the summer. I’m going to be sad to leave,” Leatherman said.

As the third family member to graduate from Saint James School, Katherine Pennington, 18, of Hagerstown, said she was glad to keep the tradition going. Her father, William, and her sister, Meghan, also are Saint James graduates.

Pennington said her younger sister, Carter, is expected to graduate in 2017 from the school.

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