230 Gettysburg Area High School (GAHS) seniors and their families filled Warrior Stadium last evening to accept their hard-earned diplomas.
The event occurred on a beautiful spring evening and the students’ red gowns shone in the evening sun.
Introductory speaker Zack Tipton said the class of 2023 was “strong and remarkable and determined.” Tipton said the attendees should pay careful attention to each of the names of the graduating seniors because they would be the same names they would be hearing in the future.
Tipton said the students had spent 16,000 hours together and encouraged them to “find our passion.”
“We are warriors and warriors must stick together. Cherish this time, this moment. Every single one of us has a gift or talent waiting to change our society,” he said.
Student speaker Alivia Colgan said preparing her speech was the most stressful assignment of her high school career. “We had a pretty abnormal first 3 years of high school, to say the least,” she said. “We only went to school about ½ of the time in our sophomore year, with masks covering our faces.”
“There is no doubt we are a group of bright individuals with bright futures ahead of us,” said Colgan. “Don’t forget to look up once in a while, be present, and make some more core memories,”
Class valedictorian Ryan Benedict said high school allowed students to fail in low-risk situations. “Our stumbles become opportunities for growth. It showed us we should learn from our mistakes and then move on and not dwell on the past,” he said.
“I learned that no one has this thing figured out. They may have a bit more experience than us but they’re along for the same ride we are. This observation is both terrifying and a relief.”
“We will leave this stadium differently than when we arrived. We’re all going to take different paths but together we can make a change,” said Benedict. “To me, success is leaving a place a bit better than when you found it.”
“Find a purpose, take risks; don’t accept mediocrity. Don’t let the doubt of others discourage you from goals. Keep moving forward. Enjoy the small things in life and live in the present moment,” he said.
High School Principal Jeremy Lusk congratulated the graduating class and honored those with laude classifications.
Lusk thanked teachers, staff, parents, and alumni for their contributions, and students for their persistence through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On a night like this I’m feeling honored and blessed, and proud of you all,” he said.
Saying education provided opportunities, Lusk said GAHS “is the critical component of a community that needs high-quality citizens, employees, and potential employers who are smart and skilled. The challenges our communities face continue to grow,”
“The world needs community warriors willing to commit. The world needs you,” he said.
Lusk shared a poem with the students entitled “Your Time.”