C. Milton Wright graduation

Cheers ring out and beach balls fly as the C. Milton Wright Class of 2012 celebrates during Wednesday evening's ceremony at Bel Air High School. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Homestead Publishing / June 6, 2012)

C. Milton Wright High School's graduating class clearly appreciates both hard work and a good time, as shown by two events during Wednesday's commencement exercise: a standing ovation for the scholastic achievements of valedictorian Michael Natoli, and an illicit beach ball that was gleefully tossed around during the ceremony until it was discovered.

"We know the Class of 2012 is awesome, but our future doesn't know that yet," Natoli told his classmates, citing an interesting numerical fact about the class.

"How many people can say they finished fifth grade in 2005, eighth grade in 2008 and 12th grade in 2012?" he pointed out.

Natoli was cited by Principal Marlene Molter for having a 4.41 grade point average and taking 13 Advanced Placement classes. She said he will attendUniversity of Maryland, College Park, in the fall with hopes of pursuing atmospheric and oceanic science.

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He said he and his classmates have come a long way and have truly grown since they entered school.

"We are a very small class compared to the average class that goes into C. Milton Wright," he said. "We have all grown a lot in high school, and I am not talking about the physical type [of growth]."

The 321 graduates leaving C. Milton this year celebrated their next step in life at Bel Air High School, down the street from their own campus.

Although the two schools may be rivals in sports, C. Milton students did not seem bitter about graduating in a different building.

"A lot of my friends go here, so it's fine," Jess Canami said with a big smile, furiously twirling her academic cords as she waited in the cafeteria before the ceremony.

Canami said she will play soccer and softball at York College, and hopes to major in biology but thinks she wants to do athletic training.

She has only positive memories about her time in high school.

"C. Milton was pretty awesome," she said.

About graduation, she said: "It's, like, bittersweet. It's hard to leave your friends."

Mahnoor Hamayun was another student waiting in line in the cafeteria, more quietly.

She said she was "very nervous" about graduating, but has plans to go to Harford Community College and transfer toUniversity of Maryland, College Park, to ultimately pursue computer science.

About college, she said: "I think it would be hard, and will take time to get used to, like, the routine."

"I hope to do my best," she added.

Hamayun also enjoyed her years at C. Milton Wright.

"I loved my time," she said. "I loved the teachers; they are really nice."

Meanwhile, Julien Kirnes was more nonchalant about the whole thing, explaining he has already been taking classes at Harford Community College.