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Aberdeen / Havre De Grace

Joppatowne High's class of 2014 moves on to life after high school

For better or worse, the days at Joppatowne High School are now behind the roughly 200 teenagers who walked across the stage Thursday afternoon to become the newly-graduated class of 2014.

"Don't fear the change; be the change," a confident Genevie Angele Anabel Mayo-Johnson told the crowd at APG Federal Credit Union Arena.

She delivered two speeches, as both valedictorian and president of the student government for a graduating class that is one of Harford County's smallest.

Students gathered in the cafeteria seemed to have mixed feelings about their time at the school but were mostly eager to get graduation over with.

"I had fun at Joppatowne. I made a lot of friends," Rayna Monroe said. She studied in the school's Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program and plans to move on to Wesley College in Delaware to study biology.

About her classmates, she said with a smile: "We are a very loud and very different [group]."

Nevertheless, she was excited to be graduating "because I feel like after high school is a new beginning."

Sierra Hardwick, who plans to join the Air Force, is one of several in her class going into the military.

"I am just glad to be out," Sierra said about graduation.

She said her class has done a lot of things together.

"Everybody partakes in Spirit Week," she said. "We have all been from the same middle school, same elementary school. We pretty much know each other our whole life."

Terisha Fields was a newcomer at Joppatowne. She had only been at the school for about a year, but showed some spirit by decorating her white cap with gold sequins that spelled out "2014."

"I wanted to be the one that stood out and be different from everyone else," Terisha explained, adding she plans to pursue interior design at Harford Community College.

Terisha said she transferred from to Joppatowne from Edgewood High and was "nervous about walking across the stage, but at the same time, I am happy that I am done."

Although she started Joppatowne late, "I will miss it because of my friends, but I won't miss it because of the immaturity," she said.

In one of her formal speeches, Genevie thanked the teachers for "unselfishly sharing their time" and wisdom with her class.

"What you do goes so far beyond your job description," she said.

She also thanked parents for "yelling at us to do our homework because we would choose to go to sleep instead," and the many others who supported the students "in numerous ways."

To her peers, she said: "Don't forget to take the time and thank the ones who stood by you along the way."

She reminded the class they are already great because they are leaving as Mariners.

If life becomes overwhelming, "I hope that you will pick up the phone and call one of your high school friends, because we will always be the class of 2014. We will always be part of each other's lives," she said.

Class president Kahlia McDowell urged students to "seek your golden opportunities."

As an underclassman watching the upper-class girls trying out for volleyball, "I just knew I would never be like them," Kahlia said.

But she ended up playing volleyball and even going to an all-star volleyball game at Harford Community College.

"My opportunity was to be the best volleyball player I could be, and I made that dream my reality," she said.

County board of education member Bob Frisch shared some of his favorite quotes with students, including: "I have learned to use the word 'impossible' with the greatest caution."

State Del. Rick Impallaria, a Joppatowne alum who got his diploma 34 years ago, encouraged them to join a Facebook page he said has been made for Joppatowne students and grads.

"I hope all of you consider joining the Facebook page so you can share with one another your career successes, your marriages and children," he said. "I hope you all go on to great success."

County Councilman Dion Guthrie noted he moved to Joppatowne in 1966, before the school even existed and has since watched all four of his children and two grandchildren cross the stage to receive their JHS diplomas.

"This is the beginning of the rest of your life," Guthrie said, before adding slyly: "Congratulations, everybody, and behave yourselves tonight."

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