Published on LancasterOnline on June 7 and ran in print June 7.
Family and friends of Hempfield High School seniors filled Franklin & Marshall College’s Alumni Sports & Fitness Center for Hempfield’s graduation ceremony Monday night.
They were packed like sardines as their chairs were zip-tied together, but that did not quell their enthusiasm one bit.
The audience cheered as the 534 graduating students adorned in red and black gowns walked to their seats.
First-year Superintendent Christopher Adams kicked off the commencement with a speech that encouraged students to build off their mistakes and continue to keep going despite all odds.
After a serious note, he said he was going to sing a song, continuing a tradition. He sang six lines of Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away” as the crowd enthusiastically clapped along.
Valedictorian Olivia Peduzzi emphasized personal growth and advocated the idea of being someone that others could lean on in a time of trouble.
“We will need to ask others for help, and that is OK,” she said, “because when someone lifts us up we learn that we survived and are then capable of supporting someone else.”
The greatest danger, according to Abigail Schwalm, is to not leave your comfort zone. “Your biggest risk in life isn’t failing,” she told her classmates, “it’s getting too comfortable.”
Bill Otto, president of Hempfield’s school board, urged the class of 2016 to make the world a better place, saying, “The future for you will only be limited by your imagination.”
Celeste Watson-Martin offered a unique twist in her graduation speech, which was done in the form of a poem that prompted audience engagement, especially among her classmates.
Francesca Barrett gave a tribute to the teachers of Hempfield, saying, “Although we will be living our lives in different paths, we will remember what we’re taught, what we learned, and where it all began: with Hempfield.
“We will learn to live, and from this moment on, we will live to learn,” she said.