For Madelyn Ball, principal of The John Carroll School, and other school administrators, Saturday's graduation ceremony was "a culmination of a four-year project here at John Carroll."
Ball said during her remarks given at the Harford County Catholic school's 46th commencement, that school administrators develop a "profile" for future graduates when they enter the ninth grade.
"We wrote it a while ago, but it described you to a T," the principal told the graduates, gathered on the Gerry Gray Memorial Field on the school's Bel Air campus.
Spectators sat in the stands, or in the shade along the edges of the field, sheltered from the midday sun and temperatures in the high 80s.
Ball said school officials work to instill four principles into the school's 690 students in grades nine through 12.
The principles include having a strong "sense of self," achieving personal and professional goals, having a "global perspective" and a "moral compass."
Ball noted 87 percent of the 169-member Class of 2013 will attend four-year colleges next year; 96 of the graduates have earned $10,305,392 in scholarships and the senior class has completed 18,240 hours of community service, an average of nearly 108 hours per student.
Each student is required to complete at least 60 hours of community service to graduate.
Ball called it "an example of your appreciation for the common good of your community."
The number of community service hours varied among the graduates; Katlyn Cyphers, of Perryville, completed the most with 432 under her belt.
She received the Service/Outreach Medal during the school's awards ceremony earlier in the week.
Cyphers said after the ceremony she spent the majority of her volunteer hours working with the Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program in Port Deposit, which provides therapeutic horse riding to adults and children with physical and emotional special needs.
"It just makes me feel good, just to help them along and make them feel accomplished," she said of the individuals served by Freedom Hills.
Cyphers plans to attend Johnson & Wales University in the fall.
"It's lovely, it really is," she said of graduating. "It gives me a good feeling, that I know when I set off to my next adventure in college I have the strength of my background at John Carroll just to prop me up and keep me going."
Salutatory, valedictory addresses
Salutatorian Rebecca Ann Driver talked about a recent trip she, 13 classmates and two teachers recently took to Honduras, where they spent eight days working with youths living in a children's home.
"Honduras is beautiful, and a lot of fun, but I didn't go for a vacation," Driver told the audience. "I went to experience what it's like to have less and to gain a deeper appreciation for what I already have."
The salutatorian said she learned she had taken a number of comforts of life in the United States and her experience at John Carroll, for granted.
"None of the schools we saw in Honduras were like John Carroll," she said. "While this wasn't surprising, it did make me reflect on how good we really have it here."