Despite the thunderstorms and a tornado that descended upon Harford County the previous evening, skies were clear and sunny for the John Carroll School 2012 Commencement Ceremony in Bel Air Saturday morning.
Students gathered with their family and friends in John Carroll's courtyard prior to the commencement exercises. When asked how she felt about her impending graduation, Jessica Krolewski called the event "exciting" and "bittersweet."
"Leaving your friends is hard," she said. "But I can't wait to go onto college."
For other students, like Adam Kuester, the fact that his high school days are over "hasn't really set in yet". Colin Brooks agreed, saying that "it feels like a fairy tale. Like it's not even real."
But it was real. For some parents, maybe even too real. Parent Dan Reilly talked proudly of his daughter's successes, but admitted that he felt anxious and sad at the thought of his child leaving home for college in the fall.
"Where did those four years go?" Reilly asked, before joining the rest of the parents, grandparents and friends in heading out to the John Carroll football field, where the commencement exercises would take place under a clear blue sky.
According to the introductory remarks to the commencement exercises given by Principal Madelyn Ball, the four years spent at John Carroll by members of the Class of 2012 had produced young adults with strong academic foundations and moral compasses.
Salutatorian Miranda Ripken agreed, explaining in her speech that while change is inevitable, the John Carroll Class of 2012 would be able to adapt to change and even become forces of positive change because of the relationships and experiences that shaped their lives during their time at John Carroll. Valedictorian Jonathan Galarraga echoed Ripken's sentiments, as he spoke about the strength of the John Carroll family.
Then came the moment for which each student had waited twelve years. School President Richard O'Hara called the names of each member of the graduating class.
Despite O'Hara and Ball's requests for silence during the awarding of diplomas, to preserve the dignity of the ceremony, friends and family couldn't resist cheering and whistling for their own graduates. One student was especially honored with the launch of a small firework.
Then, accompanied by a cheery tune from the John Carroll band, the gleeful graduates of John Carroll Class of 2012 strode across the football, past the bleachers filled with well-wishers and into their futures.