It was four years in the making, this graduation day. And for the 360-strong Wall High School Class of 2012, it couldn’t come soon enough.
There were speeches, there were copious kudos and smiles and shouts from the thousands gathered in the stands of the high school football field, spilling along the fences and wherever they could have a spot of unclaimed real estate. There were contraband battery-powered fans passed around. Someone managed to smuggle in a beach ball, naturally.
But mostly, under a blazing sun on the longest – and hottest – day of the year, there was pride, shining brighter than the sun ever could.
You could see it in the faces of the families, who brimmed and beamed. You could see it in the school board, the administration, the teachers. And, you could absolutely see it in the hundreds dressed in red and white caps and gowns seated directly under a punishing sun that seemed to hover about a dozen feet overhead.
“Today is terrifying,’’ said class Valedictorian Max McClelland. “It is exhilarating. It is finally here.’’
McClelland, described by High School Principal Rosaleen Sirchio as a “multifaceted, multi-talented individual,’’ challenged his classmates to rise above the din, to set forth their own course in his short address.
“The worst thing I can be is the same as everyone else,’’ he said. “Go and make your name great, for this is your time.’’
Later, class Salutatorian Amanda Lutick, asked the class to look back, to take in all that has brought them to this day.
“I urge you to stay true to what shaped your yesterday,’’ Lutick said. “Appreciate the person you are today, and dare to be the person you can be tomorrow.’’
Sirchio, in a short speech to the graduates, praised the class for its academic achievements and expressed confidence in their future endeavors.
“Each with his or her own brand of genius,’’ she said. “Each of you has the ability to be successful.’’
Sirchio asked that the graduates take a few words of advice: Be honest, she said. Never compromise what you know to be right. Never be satisfied with anything but your best effort, she said.
“I am so proud of the fine men and women you have become,’’ she said. “You represent all that is good at Wall High School.’’
The long reading of the names of the hundreds of graduating seniors was peppered with air horn blasts and hoots and hollers of all kinds, as friends and family members let loose their pent-up pride. In the end, thousands on hand stood and applauded every member of the Class of 2012. It went on for quite awhile.
“Well, ’’ senior James Boyle in the farewell address near the end of the program. “We did it.’’
And with the traditional movement of the tassels, led by class president Larissa Naegele, the Wall High School Class of 2012 had become graduates.
“It is truly a good day to be a Knight,’’ Sirchio said.