The Class of 2012, the last class to ever walk the halls of the old Bel Air High School building, graduated Tuesday evening.
Class President Emily Gryglewski referred to this during her speech, as she presented the class gift to the high school, a fund to eventually enlarge the school's marquee.
Gryglewski, 18, said she and her classmates had experienced both schools, which each had its pros and cons, from the artwork on the old school's walls to the third floor art gallery in the new building. She plans on attending Christopher Newport University, Gryglewski said before the ceremony, to play field hockey and study early childhood education.
"The love for children that I have is all that will make me happy," she said.
Valedictorian Christina McIntyre told fellow graduates during her speech about the light they have inside of them and the importance of sharing that light with others and in darkness.
"Bel Air High School, Class of 2012, go light our world," McIntyre said.
Fellow seniors Emily Rothbard and Remington Stuck were also chosen by classmates to speak. Rothbard also spoke about the new school, but said the smart boards and gymnasium didn't matter, rather the dedicated students and teachers do.
She urged classmates to think about how they want to be remembered and to seek "genuine" and "good" character.
Remington spoke about the students' pursuit of perfection and encouraged his classmates to learn from their imperfections and the knowledge they possess.
Before the ceremony, students had mixed feelings about graduating, expressing feelings of excitement, nervousness, relief and hope for the future. Of these was Allison Bredder, 18, who is headed to University of Maryland to study environmental science and policy.
Doing this would allow her to "marry" her two favorite subjects, she said.
In pursuite of a computer programming degree, 17-year-old Alfred Abramson is College Park-bound too, but has initial plans to join the Army ROTC to "serve his country." Likewise, Grant Aspland, 18, said he plans on enlisting in the Navy.
Aspland also said he was relieved to leave school behind him.
Fellow graduate Chelsea Adams, 17, is headed to Harford Community College after her graduation, to major in nutrition.
"I like the health aspect," Adams said.
Also staying in Maryland, Daniel Arble, 17, is headed to University of Maryland for engineering. He will miss seeing his friends, Arble said, but is happy to be graduating.
"I'm ready to get out of here," he said.
Another senior, 18-year-old Erika Armetta, is going to College Park, to pursue a double major in dietetics and psychology, saying she thinks it's interesting how different foods affect the brain. Armetta also added that she will miss the school spirit and close-knit community of Bel Air.
Daniel Arguero, 17 and headed to Salisbury to study marketing, has similar feelings. When asked what he would miss most, Arguero said "being in my comfort zone and knowing what I'm doing."
As the Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Maurice W. Dorsey addressed the class shortly before they received their diplomas, advising them about diversity.
Dorsey was part of the initial integration of Bel Air High School and the only African American in his 11th grade class when he first came to the school, prior to his 1965 graduation, he said. In his experience, he faced diversity and predicted that most of the graduates would as well.
In light of that, Dorsey challenged graduates to "maintain your inner faith," and hold tight to their fortitude.
Several other politicians and speakers were on hand to deliver greetings to the students, including school board member Alysson Krchnavy, who joked about how she is a perfectionist who procrastinates, making for a somewhat bad combination.
Krchnavy's speech combined what she called the greatest hits of ones she had heard and included pieces of other speeches, such as looking out for each other in college and remembering to call home. Similarly, Sen. Barry Glassman told a story he said students had probably heard at their Patriot Program ceremonies in elementary school, offering advice George Washington had given before.
That included remembering that they have free education and live in a great nation because of the men and women who fought and died, and continue to do so, Glassman said.
Del. Patrick McDonough also told the students they are fortunate to live in the "greatest nation" in history and said the torch has been passed to a new generation.
Representing the Harford County Council, Mary Ann Lisanti told students to challenge themselves, to work hard, love and smile. She also said although for the past 12 years they had listened to teachers and parents, they need to look within.
"From this day forward," she said, "listen to yourself."