Havre de Grace graduation

Nastassia Smith, left, and Kayla Vaughan get emotional moments before the presentation of diplomas begins during Havre de Grace High School's Class of 2013 graduation ceremony at the school. (Staff photo by Brian Krista / June 6, 2013)

With major achievements in athletics, academics, fine arts, and a year ago as juniors hosting the senior class ahead of them at the prom in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, thanks to the Spirit of Baltimore dinner cruise ship, Havre de Grace High School's Class of 2013 set a high bar for succeeding classes to reach, according to Class President Monique Watson.

"These large accomplishments are only the start of all the hard work when no one it watching," she said during her welcoming remarks for the school's 126th annual commencement Thursday evening.

Friends and relatives packed the school's auditorium to watch the 165 graduates walk across the stage.

Watson related advice from the school's band director, Richard Hauf, when she told her classmates to conduct themselves throughout their lives with "Warrior pride in our eyes."

Salutatorian Margaret Stump briefly took the audience through the Class of 2013's freshman year to their graduation.

"We have been rocking the heck out of our senior year," she said. "This year was about us; that's what made it so amazing."

Colin Carr, the school's assistant principal, introduced the class valedictorian as "the pinnacle of what Havre de Grace High has to offer."

Valedictorian Brad Davidson said, in his opinion, however, having the highest grade point average in his class did not make him the best person to dispense wisdom to his fellow graduates.

"Instead, I'm going to leave it up to a much higher power: Dr. Seuss," he said.

Davidson read excerpts from the famed children's author's work, "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"

"You have brains in your head," Seuss wrote. "You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..."

Davidson spoke of Seuss' work, of how it gives the reader a guide to follow their dreams.

"You can still change, and be whoever you want to be on your path to success," he said.

The graduates also heard from local elected and appointed officials, many who are graduates of Havre de Grace High.

The speakers included Harford County Executive David Craig, who graduated in 1967.

Craig said the student speakers "did and excellent job," and hoped they would return to lead the next generation of high schoolers.

"We congratulate you, we bless you, we love you and we wish you all the best, and please come back here and get the next generation going," he told the graduates.

County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti, a member of the Class of 1985, reminded the graduates of the school's motto: "Enter to learn; leave to serve."

She also noted Thursday was the 69th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, when thousands of American troops and their British and Canadian allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, to liberate the French people from their German occupiers.

While many Americans think of the Normandy invasion when they hear the phrase D-Day, Lisanti said D-Day is a typical military term to note the beginning of an operation.