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(Enlarge) Lucas Anderson and Madelynn Archer walk into the gymnasium at Bel Air High School Tuesday night during the graduation ceremony. (Nicole Munchel | Aegis staff)

Nearly 200 years of community and pride came to a head at Bel Air High School’s 195th commencement ceremony Tuesday evening.

The ceremony marked the first of many to be held in the high school’s new building — a fact that had the 223 graduates roaring with excitement and applause.

Faculty, too, found it hard to disguise their emotions, as Principal Joseph L. Voskuhl fought back tears during the welcome and presentation of guests.

“It’s been a wonderful year,” Voskuhl said, trying to hold back his emotions. “We’ve all had some great memories, huh?”

Jessica J. Colton and Joshua L. Liliston split the duty of the student address, with Colton speaking of blazing one’s on trail through life.

“We’ve had our entire lives up to this point planned out for us,” Colton said. “This is our time to blaze our own trails in life.”

She also spoke on dreams.

“Dream of a path that has never been walked, and go there,” she said. “May your path lead you to a life worth lived.”

Liliston spoke of challenges and adversity, and overcoming them.

“Challenge is an opportunity to prove what you’re made of,” Liliston said. “Some of you, like myself, have already faced great challenges in your lives. Take them one step at a time, and never look at the big picture.”

Sarah Pope, the class valedictorian, took the stage and spoke of defining success, attaining a hard work ethic, and living with a strong moral purpose.

“Devote yourself to loving others, serving one’s community, and remaining persistent in your goals for life,” she said. “There’s no substitute for persistence. A fear of failure only acts as a hindrance — attitude is truly everything.”

Laura Bennedson presented the class gift — Bel Air High School’s official alma mater “Bobcat Roar” — to the school, as the Bel Air High School Counterpoints, led by Director Terri Mathews, flooded the gym and auditorium with song.

Shortly afterward, David Rosas, Class of 1977 alumnus and the Alumnus of the Year, delivered his address, speaking about the difference between existing in one’s life and living one’s life.

“If one simply asked me to explain how I’ve existed in my life, the story would be pretty boring,” said Rosas, vice president of CFO contracting, who built the new school. “When someone looks deep into how I’ve lived my life, they’d see a world of a difference, and that’s my lesson to you all. Choose to live your life, not simply exist in it, and don’t trade it for anything.”

For Brett Lang, Tuesday’s graduation was bittersweet.

“It’s awesome, but tough at the same time,” Lang, who joked with friends before the ceremony, said. “On one hand, I’m glad to be moving on, but still, I’ve been with a lot of these friends for years.”

Tyrell Tabron shared a similar sentiment.

“I’ll miss a lot of people,” he said, “but at the same time, you find a way to keep those you still want around, and you make new friends along the way.”

When the official platform guests were announced and began to address the audience, they offered words of encouragement and inspiration to the matriculating seniors, who, in turn, welcomed them warmly.

Board of Education member Alysson Krchnavy, State Sen. Barry Glassman, Del. Susan McComas, Harford County Executive David Craig, County Councilman Jim McMahan and Superintendent Robert Tomback took turns speaking to the graduating class, and instructing them on the future.

“Those gift cards and cash rewards you’ve probably been jingling around in your pockets won’t last forever,” Krchnavy, who received more than a few laughs from the audience, chided. “Use the knowledge you’ve received in your minds to the best of your ability and you’ll succeed to even greater levels than you have today.”

She reminded the students to remain thankful and to express it, rather than merely think it.

“You cannot wear out the word ‘thanks,’” Krchnavy continued. “Say thank you as much as you can, to as many as you can.”

Glassman echoed those sentiments.

“Thank a veteran, and thank them sincerely,” he said. “We’ve been at war since many of you have been in the second and third grade. It’s one of those things that really gets overlooked from time to time, but they keep us safe, so take the time to thank them.”

“You’ll never predict where you’ll end up in the future,” McComas said, speaking of her Midwestern roots and her move to Maryland. “Be proud of who you are and the decisions you make throughout your life.”

She also praised the school as more than simply an institution of learning.

“Bel Air High School is more than a school, it has been an incubator for your teenage years, and your dreams,” she said.

user comments (1)

user mrselvis says...

About the JHS grads: CONGRATS!!!!! to all the 2010 grads! I know many of them (including Troy T., Richard B., Danny M., Matthew M., Robert M., and many more). They are the best group of young people I have ever met! I so enjoyed taking their money (as I am a cashier at the JHS cafeteria) and talking with them everyday! I will truly miss them and wish them the very best! They deserve nothing less! So PROUD of them!!! Donna C.

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