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(Enlarge) Quilin Banks and Mai Bader make their way to the front of the gymnasium before receiving their diplomas during Bel Air's graduation Tuesday night. (Nicole Munchel | Aegis staff)

This year's graduating class at Bel Air High School had a little bit of the old Bel Air and a little bit of the new Bel Air, at least according to school board member Alysson Krchnavy.

Krchnavy was the first guest to address the Class of 2011 at Tuesday's graduation in the school's gymnasium and did so with a bit of humor. Following the theme of combining the old and the new, Krchnavy used clichés and new materials in her speech, but also made sure to drive one message home.

“No one, no one can take away your education,” she said. “You worked for it, you earned it and it is yours to have forever.”

Kathleen Murphy and Amanda Nohe were chosen as the student speakers, in addition to Valedictorian Madison Kafer and Class President Abigail Dempsey.

Kathleen remembered years past in her speech, highlighting freshman jitters and close friendships.

“We're still the same horrified freshman, just a little smarter, more mature and definitely taller,” she said.

Amanda focused on the future in her speech, urging her peers to “carry on with even greater stride” and “competently chase after your life's purpose.”

Like Kathleen, Madison reflected on the past four years at Bel Air, including early mornings, procrastinating on assignments and “nacho Thursdays,” all while encouraging her fellow graduates to continue to learn.

“Never believe you have nothing to offer the world because every single one of us does,” she said.

Abigail not only presented the class gift, a glass encasement for the World Trade Center artifact the school recently received, but told graduates to take advantage of this time to learn about themselves.

“So live now, find out who you are, find out what you love and what your passion for life is,” she said. “I love Jesus and I have a passion for people.”

Before the ceremony, the class president said she could not wait to “go on to bigger and better things.”

These bigger and better things include a 10-month to a year stay in Uganda to help orphans.

Former Bel Air Principal Joseph Voskuhl, who retired in January, was selected as the Alumnus of the Year and addressed the students with tears in his eyes.

Voskuhl passed on the advice of his former football coach, telling students to never give up.

“Don't let disappointment stand in your way,” he said.

He also asked the graduates for two favors, to give back to their communities as parents and staff gave to them and to take care of one another during senior week.

In addition to Abigail, several graduates spoke about their plans for the future and what they would miss from high school.

Matthew Billé said he would miss the people at Bel Air High School but was still happy to be graduating.

“This is the goal of every teenager,” he said.

Matthew will be attending Stevenson University on a partial soccer scholarship for business administration with a focus on marketing.


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