All 128 members of the Havre de Grace High School Class of 2015 were celebrated during the 128th annual commencement Thursday evening, but one graduate received a special recognition because of how he has overcome adversity and inspired his classmates.
Just before the diplomas were handed to each graduate, Principal Jim Reynolds honored 18-year-old Asa Cromwell Jr., whom Reynolds called "an inspiration to the Class of 2015."
Asa lives in Havre de Grace, and next year he will be part of Harford County Public Schools' Future Link program for students with special needs who have completed high school, according to his mother.
He has muscular dystrophy, and has been confined to a wheelchair since he was about 9 years old. He sat in his wheelchair, wearing a maroon cap and gown, with his classmates on stage in the Havre de Grace High School auditorium.
"This student has meant a lot to our school, and our staff and our students,' Reynolds said.
"He just has a positive attitude, and he gets through every day with a smile on his face, and he just has this aura about him," Hamm said.
She said her son has also worked in the Havre de Grace mayor's office for the past two years, performing clerical duties for former Mayor Wayne Dougherty and current Mayor Bill Martin, who was elected last month and was among the guest speakers at Thursday's commencement.
Asa called the graduation "very awesome."
"Hard work pays off," he said.
In addition to the tribute to Asa, the HHS Class of 2015 – which Reynolds said has earned $2.7 million in scholarships – heard words of wisdom from senior class President Emilee Bubb and valedictorian Cassandra Valcourt.