He said he ultimately hopes to go to Towson University, probably to study computer science and mass communications.

"It's starting a new chapter, that's all I can say," Kirnes observed about graduation.

Like Canami, he has no problem with graduating at Bel Air High instead of his own school.

"It's common ground. We are all getting out of high school," he said.

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Molter, the principal, reminded students to become "forces with which to be reckoned" by using an analogy about Newton's three basic laws of physics.

Citing the law of a body in motion remaining in motion and one at rest remaining at rest, she explained: "If you wait for the opportunity to come to you, you are probably going to stay in that same sitting position."

She urged students to study harder to overcome obstacles.

"In the 1960s, man finally conquered [earth's] gravitational pull," she said. "I have seen so very often that those who seem to have the most baggage, despite overwhelming circumstances, end up being the most successful."

Alysson Krchnavy, a board of education member, said she remembers many of the students from elementary school.

"Many of you here were awfully cute Hickory squirrels and man, what mighty fine Mustangs you turned out to be," she said, also encouraging them to work hard in life.

"I am a procrastinator and a perfectionist. That has to be one of the worst combinations out there," she joked. "You need to work hard for anything and everything that's worthwhile. People will no longer give you awards and certificates for participation."

County Administration Director Mary Chance advised students to hold values like responsibility, empathy, patience and caring, as well as to "trust God, because he is trusting in you."

She asked students to close their eyes and think of three people they respect or admire, then pointed out that they probably thought not only of the people's faces, but their names.

"When someone says your name, they will remember you for who you are," she said. "It's your name that carries that, so guard that carefully."

County Councilman Dick Slutzky reminded students of the importance of the day.

"Graduation is the quintessential rite of passage. Probably no other event in your life will signal as much as a graduation does," he said. "Remember as you grow in your life, to give back to others just as they have given to you. Always show more kindness than seems necessary."