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New Oxford High School celebrates its 109th commencement

New Oxford High School held its 109th graduation ceremony on May 28, marking the end of an unusual school year as New Oxford and other schools around the world have struggled to adapt to the novel coronavirus.

Despite COVID-19, the school was able to hold its graduation ceremony with in-person attendance.

[CONEWAGO VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT]

Christopher Bowman, principal of New Oxford, welcomed the guests.

“It has certainly been a year of ups and downs, and one that will not soon be forgotten,” Bowman said.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by two all-state senior singers, Adam Cavicchio and Alex Michua-Brooks. The senior choir performed the alma mater.

Bowman said that since he has stayed in the same position for several years, he was able to watch the students grow up.

“You made it through one of the most difficult years ever in education,” Bowman said during his address. “You are to be commended for your tenacity and flexibility. Your class will certainly be remembered for having battled through a pandemic, making the most out of your senior year. It has been my honor to be your administrator over the past six years. This was a unique journey that not many principals have the privilege to experience. To have seen you grow from seventh grade to now has been a privilege I will cherish. I hope that your high school experience has provided you with many memories that will last a lifetime.”

After over a year of the world’s battle with the novel coronavirus – and the struggles the district itself had balancing education with COVID-19 safety measures– Bowman said students can learn from the experience.

“As you move forward on your life journey, I hope you remember some of the lessons this year has taught all of us,” Bowman said. “Relationships are crucial. The people with whom you surround yourself with have a profound impact on your outlook and path. Take note of your influencers, and be mindful of how you interact. Cherish the love and friendship that derives from meaningful relationships. So many of us faced difficult days this year. It is often the little things – that one kind word or gesture that made a difference. Focus on the little things. Make it your mission to make one kind gesture for another person every day. You may never realize your impact, but your one kind word, your smile, your laughter, could get someone through their day.”

Bowman encouraged the class to “fail forward” as they learn through wins and losses.

Remembering a late classmate

Graduating senior Jordan Heeney spoke to the crowd, thanking teachers and staff for their patience and help.

“As we know, our graduating class has been through a lot,” Heeney said. “COVID-19 was not the only factor that took a toll on our graduating class. Coming into our senior year, an unexpected incident happened where we lost the life of a classmate and a friend.”

Heeney recalled her late classmate, saying he, “loved life and always made everyone smile.”

Heeney said she was glad that the class could be back together since the class was divided into an alternating schedule.

“Our class has stuck by each other through it all and we are still a strong family,” Heeney said. “I know we might not all know each other that well, and we don’t always get along, but this high school is our home. We have so many memories here. We need to remember that this pandemic, and all of the other uncertainties that occurred over these past four years of high school, can’t be taken away from us. We should take pride in ourselves. These past four years of school were not easy. It seemed impossible to keep up with the schoolwork. We had to face a multitude of barriers with our wills to succeed, but we still managed to finish.”

Bowman also recognized the late student. Bowman said that the school learned about a “horrific car accident” involving two students on Aug. 10, 2020.

“A few days later, we were confronted with the reality that only one of those students had survived,” Bowman said.

The student “continues to be with us, though, and he is joined by the other angels we have lost over the last few years at NOHS,” Bowman continued. “To honor his memory, during what would have been his graduation ceremony, we are presenting an honorary diploma to each of his parents.”

Along with the diplomas, the school also gifted the student’s parents with a rose and a portrait made by another student.

Addresses to the class

Jared Widerman also addressed the class.

“Everyone says high school is the best four years of your life,” Widerman said. “But I’ve always foundthat rather hard to believe because if high school is really our best years, what makes the rest of our lives worth living? If it’s all downhill after high school, then why do we chase dreams and work hard for a better tomorrow rather than dwelling on those days?”

Widerman said that high school is influential for developing a person’s life.

“High school isn’t the best years of our lives because it’s the peak of our lives,” Widerman said. “It’s because it’s maybe the most important. Four years of change, finding out who we are and who we want to be, and it all leads up to this moment: graduation day…. Now, here we are: young adults getting ready to go out into the real world, with the last four years of our lives in the rear view and our eyes set on the wide open road ahead. But for a moment, we need to take our eyes off of our futures and live in this moment. We need to thank all of the people who have helped us get to this point and make us who we are because we couldn’t have done it without them, and too often, we take them for granted.”

Widerman asked his class to individually approach mentors, teachers and others who supported them in school, thanking them for their assistance. He also told them to remember their experiences so that they can tell their children about them in the future.

The stories this class will tell its children are different than other generations might tell, he said.

“In our case, normal high school memories and traditions became lost, a thing of the past, because almost a year and a half of our time in high school was anything but ordinary,” Widerman said. “For some of us, myself included, that meant that the stories of some of our best times in high school were rewritten. We were just beginning to figure out the whole high school school experience when the pandemic hit. As for me, I spent my freshman and sophomore years hanging back out of the spotlight, choosing to be a fly on the wall rather than someone who was right in the middle of the action. And just when I finally realized that there was more to high school than watching everyone else have fun, the world turned upside down. One of the few perks, however, of choosing to observe from a distance rather than immerse myself in the experience, is that there was a lot of time for reflection and learning. And that time only increased with quarantine, which is why I think we all owe a small thank-you to COVID in the midst of all of the grieving the time and memories we lost to it.”

The class collectively learned about itself and its capabilities after struggling with the pandemic, Widerman said. He advised his classmates to carry that knowledge of themselves through the remainder of their lives.

Widerman urged the graduates to forge their own path and pursue their dreams.

“We become so stuck on acceptance that we forget the only respect that truly matters: our own,” Widerman said. “We’re the only ones in this world who can truly define who we are.”

He told the class that they are strong and can make their dreams come true with work, even if they face challenges.

Dr. Christopher Rudisill, superintendent of the Conewago Valley School District, told graduates to look for the positive in every day.

Rudisill introduced Jeffrey Null, a social studies teacher at the high school, as the faculty speaker.

“I think I can speak for all of your teachers and my colleagues here tonight when I say you, our students, often contribute as much to our lives as we hope to contribute to yours. In the same way we attempt to encourage and support you, you’ve done the same for us.”

Null said he normally gifts students a copy of the poem, “The Man in the Glass” by Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr. Instead, he read it from the podium this year.

“You, and only you, have the ability to program your moral compass,” Null said. “Use this compass to guide you through life and develop what is known as character.”

He summed up facets of ‘character,’ including integrity and accountability, and told them to be kind to others.

The class officers gave a class gift to Dr. Sharon Perry, the district’s assistant superintendent. The senior class gifted the school a charging kiosk and a gift card for $1,000.

The following seniors graduated:

  • Carlos  Daniel Aguilar-Fuller
  • Elainee Abigail Aguilera
  • Jordyn McKenzie Altland
  • Elizabeth Anne Aumen
  • Maci Brynn Aumen
  • Carrie Lynn Bair
  • Isabella Lee Bankert
  • Alexis  Nicole Barnhart
  • Jared    Joseph Barnhart
  • Zachary Clayton Barnhart
  • Makayla Rose Batts
  • Connor Ryan Beans
  • Caleb Beam
  • Logan  Robert Becker
  • Krista  Elaine  Beichler
  • Alexis  Rose Belanger
  • Serena Beth Bell
  • Linda Bermejo Lua
  • Dorothy Allyson Bertrand
  • Joshua Stephen Bethas
  • Bailey Lee Biggerstaff
  • Aaron Joseph  Binner
  • Hannah Raquel Bishop
  • Jesse Livingston Bitzer
  • Maxwell Robert Boyer
  • Isaac John Brady
  • Caleb William Brown
  • Jasmyn Marie Brown
  • Devin Blake Bryant
  • Eric Christopher Buckley
  • Bridge Allyn BuffaloBoy
  • Chloe Alexis Byers
  • Dantel Jarem Caban Concepcion
  • Braden James Carver
  • Adam Joseph Cavicchio
  • Katy Montserat Cervantes-Sandoval
  • Edgar Chaparro-Amezcua
  • Ethen Cole Clabaugh
  • Erin Marie Clagg
  • Jon Patrick Clinton
  • Hailey Renee Coblentz
  • Qwornell Leon Coe
  • Maxxmillian Machiavelli Ark Codling
  • Taylor  Marian Conniff
  • Alexis  May Conrad
  • Alexis  Marie Cox
  • Reece  Devin Cramer
  • Jenica  Lee Crider
  • Jayla Carmen Crone
  • Kelsey Lisset Cruz-Maldonado
  • Hannah May Darr
  • Jasmine Nichole Davila
  • Abigail Grace Deardorff
  • Sindy DeLaTorre
  • Jiovanni Diaz
  • John Wesley Dickey
  • Makaih Matthew Diehl
  • Duc Van Do
  • Noah Francis Doan
  • Madison Brooke Dockter
  • Savanah Sharon Dollar
  • Savannah Paige Doss
  • Zoe Renee Duggin
  • Torbyn James Eakins
  • John Edmundson Ernst
  • Abigail Claire Eyler
  • Adam James Felts
  • Justin Lee Finneyfrock
  • Ien Chad Flemmens
  • Justin Wayne Floyd
  • Chelsey Elizabeth Forbes
  • Cole JT Forbes
  • Dylan Jack Forbes
  • Phoenix Alan Foreman
  • Michael Yahir Francisco-Veronica
  • Bailey Michael Freet
  • Cheveyo Hunter Frias
  • Alexia Paige Funk
  • Luis Angel Gallegos-Sanchez
  • Oscar Garcia Aguilar
  • Paola Garcia-Cervantes
  • Alexis  Kathryn Gardner
  • Sabrina Mae Garvick
  • Justin Anthony Gava
  • Avery Jaymes Gebhart
  • Mikayla Elizabeth Gebhart
  • Joshua Ryan    Getz
  • Emma Taylor Gilbert
  • Bethany Rose  Gladfelter
  • Vera Lynn Graybill
  • Megan Elizabeth Green
  • Roselynn Monique Green
  • McKayla Lynn Griffith
  • Adrian Charles Grillo
  • Logan  James Groft
  • Nichole Elizabeth Grogan
  • Paige   Michele Grothe
  • Landis Noah Grove
  • Aden Scott Hafer
  • Emma Elizabeth Hafner
  • Vance  Michael Hagarman
  • Krista  Lynn Hahn
  • Mackenzie Anne Hahn
  • Emma Diane Haltiner
  • Ralph Todd Harris
  • Isaac Benjamin Meckle Haugh
  • Lexus Elizabeth Hawkes
  • Jordan Elizabeth Heeney
  • Jacob   Joseph-Allen Heffner
  • Zachary Stewart Henry
  • Christian John Hernandez
  • Chloe Mae Herring
  • Connor Wayne Herring
  • Jordan Summer Hess
  • Brian Leonardo Hinojosa-Villena
  • Kayla Marie Hoffman
  • Nathan Alexander Hoover
  • Bryan Douglas Hopkins
  • Cheyanne Marie Hopkins
  • Evan Alexander Horne
  • Destiny Lynn Hoshall
  • Matthew Brady Hundertmark
  • Lauralee Margaret Hurst
  • Benisa Ibisevic
  • Molly  Lynn Janocha
  • Connor Thomas Jenkins
  • Erik Khaleel Johnson
  • Isaac Paul Johnson
  • Sage Taylor Johnson
  • Caleb Jordan Kaiser
  • Kayleigh Ann Keegan
  • Caleb Jerome Kelley
  • Kaelyn Paige Kennedy
  • Kylie Maleena Keperling
  • Kaleb Michael Kerley
  • Logan  Andrew Kessler
  • Kylie Michael Kestner
  • Philip Robert Keyser
  • Lauren Michele Kint
  • Brett Skylar Kirk
  • Anna Marie Klinedinst
  • Abby Michelle Kopp
  • William Nicholas Kraus
  • Bryley Danielle Kuhn
  • Katelyn Renee Laughman
  • Nicholas Anthony Lawrence
  • Joshua Randall Lease
  • Marques Maurice Lee
  • Logan  Allen Lemaire-Hahn
  • Morgan Virginia Lippy
  • Eryn Delaney Little
  • Joshua John Little
  • Aliya Corynne Lockman
  • Owen William Loper
  • Juan Carlos Lopez Claudio
  • Jacob Stone Thomas Lovisone
  • Angeles Azeneth Lozada-Mendez
  • Jesse Lua
  • Judith Lua
  • Priscilla Leslie Lua
  • Sol Chalena Lua
  • Lorenzo Lua Lua
  • Christian Lua-Lua
  • Daniel Baltazar Lupian
  • Jeremiah Michael Mann
  • Peyton Gregory Mathis
  • Jamie Michael Mayhugh
  • Liam Patrick McCormac
  • Rylie Jo McDaniel
  • Christopher Gabriel McDermott
  • Danielle Marie McIntire
  • Josie Marie McIntyre
  • Kaitlyn Rhea McNew
  • Cheyenne Rose Meehan
  • Vaneza Melchor
  • Viviana Melchor
  • Alex Laslo Michua-Brooks
  • Aaron M. Miller
  • Lindsey Marie Miller
  • Sydney Danae Miller
  • Yaritzel Miranda
  • Nevaeh Ann Moore
  • Barbaro Miguel Morales
  • Madison Elizabeth McPhi Morin
  • Katelyn Helen Motter
  • William Edward Mullins
  • Rebecca Lynn Mummert
  • Adi Muratovic
  • Ayden  Michael Myer
  • Tessa Morgan Myers
  • Kasandra Nava
  • Peyton Riley Nell
  • Rene Juanita Noriega
  • Chloe Elizabeth Null
  • Destiny Ann-Marie Olczak
  • Erin Adriana Orozco
  • Dominic Aaron Parsley
  • Nyobi  Andrianna Pearson
  • Lillian Picasso
  • Jacob Noah Pope
  • Lara Georgina Maria  Pots
  • Jacob Andrew Puente
  • Zachary Thomas Railing
  • Joel Ramirez
  • Eliud Emanuel Ramos
  • Lukas Kevin Raullerson
  • Connor Owen  Rebert
  • James Thomas Rebert
  • Madison Catherine Reck
  • David Alex Reachard
  • Hannah Kay Reichart
  • Jacob Elijah Reid
  • Luke Joseph Rickrode
  • Jack Kenneth Ridgway
  • Kahli Mikhail Riggleman
  • Jayden Francis Rineman
  • Noah   Micheal Ringrose
  • Brandon Jesus Rivera
  • Annalee Marie Roberts
  • Lydia Faith Robinson
  • Brandon Thomas Rogers
  • Selena Elizabeth Rosario
  • Bryar Edward Rosenberger
  • Addison Elizabeth Rosensteel
  • Grace Anne Rufalo
  • Dustin Dakota Rummel
  • Alexandra Mattison Rydberg
  • Travis  Eugene Salisbury
  • Jancey Manuelle Sanchez Gonzalez
  • Vicky Sanchez-Rojo
  • Hope Olivia Sanders
  • Ashley Yasmine Santiago-Lopez
  • Morgan Renee Sauter
  • Brock Robert  Saveleski
  • Liam Logan Schmidt
  • Joshua James Schriver
  • Carter  Alan Schuchart
  • Morgan Taylor Scott
  • Mackenzie Leigh Seiferd
  • James Thomas Serviss
  • Hunter Joseph Shaffer
  • Trey Thomas Sidenstricker
  • Jack Ryan Slonaker
  • Smail Smajic
  • Caitlyn Nicole Smith
  • Courtney Mae Smith
  • Kayleigh Ann  Smith
  • Paris Angel Smith
  • Sabin Logan Smith
  • Shauna Grace  Snyder
  • Josue Alan Solalinde-Cedillo
  • Faith Alea Spangler
  • Tanner Daniel Stambaugh
  • Owen David Stanley
  • Jacob Glenn Stansbury
  • Collin Michael Staub
  • Ethan Michael Stevens
  • Jillian Jude Stevens
  • Chloe Margaret Stitely
  • Sheryl  Lynn Stockman
  • Christian David Matthew Stoltzfus
  • Alexander John Strausbaugh
  • Garrett Riley Swift
  • Noah Benjamin Swisher
  • Carson William Taylor
  • Timothy Frank Tharp
  • Alexis  Elizabeth Touloumes
  • Jordyne Saleen Troyer
  • Tyler Joshua Ullrich
  • Michelle Valle
  • Joshua Andres Vargas
  • Aaron  Robert Wagaman
  • Vincent William Wagaman
  • Alyssa Katelyn Walters
  • Aaron  Michael Wampler
  • Evan James Wantz
  • Drea Nicole Warner
  • Lacey Marie Watkins
  • Cayden James Watson
  • Molly Caitlin  Waybrant
  • Krista Catherine Weaver
  • Carmen Jon West
  • Cameron Eugene Wherley
  • Jared Tucker Widerman
  • Chasity Lyn Williams
  • LaDamien Wayne Williams
  • Savannah Rayne Winpigler
  • Anthony Kirt Raymond Withrow
  • Hailey Jean Elizabeth Wolford
  • Zuzhen Xie
  • Carlos  Brian Zepeda
  • Gage Andrew Ziegler
  • Hannah Elizabeth Zimmer
  • Matthew Mason Zinn
Website | + posts

Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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