Valedictorian's speech brings smiles to Smithsburg's Class of 2013

June 07, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Joyce Edwards pumps her fist after her name was called to recieve her diploma during Smithsburg High School graduation excercises at The Maryland Theatre Friday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Caitlyn E. Wilson had a little fun during her valedictorian address Friday afternoon — although some of her Smithsburg High School classmates had asked her to give “the short version” and “hide her crazy.”

“I feel like a flying squirrel in this thing,” Wilson said of her purple commencement gown, garnering a collective chuckle from the capacity crowd inside The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown.

Wilson’s speech included a long list of memories that brought smiles to faces of many of the 173 graduating seniors in Smithsburg’s Class of 2013, just before the group received their diplomas during the school’s annual commencement ceremony.

“Guys, this is it. We’re graduating,” Wilson said. “I’ve known so many of you for the past 12 years. It’s strange to be leaving.

“With the change, there will be heartache,” she said. “But regardless of whether you’re going into college, the workforce or the military, I hope that the excitement and onset of newness will overpower any heartache that comes your way.”

In total, Smithsburg’s 2013 graduates have received nearly $3 million in scholarships, awards and grants, while racking up an impressive 16,000 service-learning hours, Principal Karim K. Shortridge announced.

Many students will be going off to college, some with scholarships and grants to schools up and down the East Coast and as far west as Utah.

“This is a very ambitious graduating class” with lofty goals, Shortridge said.

Other speakers included Shortridge, longtime teacher Gary L. Rupert, Salutatorian Emma G. Zahm and Washington County Board of Education President Justin M. Hartings. Class President Heather L. DeLauter presented the 2013 class gift of table umbrellas for the school’s back patio.

Zahm said she thinks just about everyone in the Class of 2013 secretly feels a little nervous or unsure of their futures.

But Zahm stressed that their time at Smithsburg has prepared them to become independent and successful members of society. And if that uncertainty persists, “We’ve all got the time to figure it out,” she said.

As the final one to take the podium, Shortridge decided to keep his comments brief, but offered the seniors one piece of advice: “Remember that you have plenty of time.”

Shortridge used a quote from the classic novel, “The Great Gatsby,” in which author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “There are no second acts in American lives.”

The principal disputed that conclusion, pointing to successful men and women like the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, esteemed statesman Benjamin Franklin, world-class chef Julia Child and award-winning director Clint Eastwood.

All four experienced hardships and bumps in the road before finding success, Shortridge said.

“All of these individuals were successful late bloomers. Don’t be afraid to be a late bloomer,” he said. “Remember that you have time to figure out what you want to do, who you need to be, where you want to go.”

Smithsburg High School

Number of Graduates: 173
Valedictorian: Caitlyn E. Wilson
Salutatorian: Emma G. Zahm

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