Kathrin Simmons, one of 338 of the newest graduates of North Harford High School, smiled broadly as she posed for pictures with her family.
"I'm excited, but I'm also kind of nervous about starting something new and just breaking a routine that I've had for so many years," the 17-year-old Bel Air-area resident said Wednesday, following North Harford's 63rd annual commencement ceremony in the APG Federal Credit Union at Harford Community College.
Simmons is not the only one in her family to celebrate a graduation this year; her sister, Kaitlin, a 2008 graduate of North Harford, is set to receive her associate's degree in nursing from the community college in August, and her mother, Karen, received her master's of business administration from Loyola University in Baltimore in May.
"We'll have three graduations in a couple of months, so it's been a good year for education in the family," Karen Simmons said.
Simmons went for her degree at the encouragement of her daughters.
"So we've all encouraged one another to be part of the Class of 2013," she said.
North Harford's Class of 2013 sat on the basketball court of the arena, young women graduates in gold caps and gowns and young men in green.
Andrew Becker, president of the senior class, stressed during his opening remarks that, while he and his classmates were not all friends with each other, "tonight we're all classmates and we're all graduates."
"It has been an honor being your class president," he said. "I want to thank you for helping shape me into the man who stands before you tonight."
Principal William Herbold called the graduates "a vibrant community of learners."
He urged them to give back to their communities, expect "only the best" from themselves, and ultimately, "never forget your roots, that you are North Harford Hawks and you always will be."
Thomas Ogden, the class valedictorian, imparted several things he had learned during his time at "ol' North Harford High School."
The first was "that your dreams will never be anything more than dreams unless you act on them."
Ogden encouraged his classmates to put in the time to be "truly good at something," to always improve themselves and to continue learning even after high school.
"There is so much to learn about so many things and so many ways to apply that knowledge," he said.
Ethel Davis of Norrisville cheered as her grandson's name, Austin Newcomer, was called and he walked across the stage to get his diploma.
"I think it's wonderful that he's graduating," she said.
Davis, who sat with her grandson's parents, Chip and Tracy Newcomer, also of Norrisville, said Austin will study music at Harford Community College.
"He's very good on the guitar," she said.
Graduates Matt Goedeke, 17, of Forest Hill, and Elizabeth Martin, 18, of Street, stood outside the arena after the ceremony, embracing and posing for pictures.