Shoshana Misch described her experience of being a new high school graduate in one word: "surreal."
Misch, 18, and one of 264 members of Fallston High School's Class of 2013, said her boyfriend, Ethan MacMillan, who had graduated from Bel Air High School on Tuesday, told her of the odd feeling of waking up in the morning as a graduate.
"I feel like I'm going to have to wake up tomorrow morning and go to school, but I'm not and it's weird, it's surreal," the Fallston resident said, her boyfriend at her side following her now-alma mater's 34th annual commencement Thursday.
Fallston High's commencement was held at the APG Federal Credit Union Arena at Harford Community College, one of a number of graduations held there during Harford County Public Schools' graduation week.
The members of the Class of 2013 heard plenty of advice from their peers Thursday as four student speakers were featured as part of the ceremony.
Fiona Puglese recalled learning to count as a preschooler by identifying the number of M&Ms candies in her father's hand, with the chocolate treats as a reward for a correct answer.
She called it a "sweet victory."
"What is important today is that we take the time to reflect upon our sweet victories," Puglese told her classmates.
She talked about the impact the graduates' experience at Fallston has had on them, and how she was honored to be part of the Class of 2013.
"Now that is sweeter than candy," she said.
Garrett Ross used a track race metaphor to sum up the high school experience.
"We all started the same race with the same goal, to reach the finish line," he said.
He also took issue with the notion held by many people that high school is the best time of one's life, and said he "would be sad" if he spent his life looking back at high school.
He characterized graduation not as a finish line, "but rather a passing of the baton," and the graduates have a duty "to take that diploma and run as hard as we can in the direction of that goal."
Andrew Benjes used the metaphor of setting up rows of dominoes.
"The interesting thing about dominoes is, you can make them take any path you want," he said.
Benjes said the graduates started with one domino the first day of freshman year, and each set his or her own pattern they went through high school. Now that they are finished, they can look at the setup and "see how the past four years have unfolded."
"May your path of dominoes fall smoothly and uniformly as you move forward in your life," he said.
Finally, Mitchell McMichael took on the role of a reporter broadcasting a breaking story about high school seniors across the country struck with a case of the "what ifs."
"This contagion appears to be airborne as seniors converse with each other," he said.