Antonio Mendez delivers keynote address to Boonsboro High graduates

June 07, 2013|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Boonsboro High School guest graduation speaker, Antonio Mendez, waits on stage before delivering the commencement address.
By Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer

When Antonio Mendez was 3 years old, his father was crushed to death working in a Nevada copper mine.

His family was so poor that he and his brother raised money to go to the movies by selling bat droppings as fertilizer.

Their home didn’t have a roof.

“We went to sleep every night looking at the stars. In fact, it was beautiful,” Mendez, a former CIA spy and inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film, “Argo,” told the Boonsboro High School Class of 2013 during its commencement ceremony Friday at Hagerstown Community College.

Mendez, who said he was honored to be asked to deliver the keynote address, joked at times about his former life as a spy.

“I’m somewhat constrained in what I can say,” he said. “I don’t want to have to kill you on the day you graduate.”

But Mendez’ main message followed a more serious tone.

He cited 10 rules written by Thomas Jefferson, including “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today,” and “Never trouble another for what you can do yourself,” as words to live by.  

“They will serve you well in the complicated and dangerous political turmoil of the world that you are about to enter,” he said. “These rules work equally well abroad or domestically. They apply both to your career and to your personal life.”

Mendez’ message was heard by 194 graduates and several hundred of their friends and family members who attended the event at the HCC’s Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

Assistant Principal Jethro Reid told the audience that the Class of 2013 earned more than $6.1 million in scholarships and logged nearly 24,000 hours of community service.

Valedictorian Chad Cowden praised the class for coming such a long way in four years, noting that roughly 85 percent of his classmates were going on to college.

He said he remembered starting at the bottom of the high school pecking order as a freshman and looking up to the seniors.

“They seemed like they had everything together,” he said.

Cowden thanked the teachers and coaches on behalf of the class for helping them along the way. He said the seniors were not only a force in the classroom, but on the athletic fields.

“The multiple track and field, and cross country state championship banners have been hung in our gym in large part because of our class,” he said.

Cowden urged his classmates to relish their time together in the days to come before they move on to begin a new chapter of their lives.

Boonsboro High School

Number of graduates: 194.
Valedictorian: Chad Cowden.
Salutatorian: Serge Aleshin-Guendel.

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