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North Harford graduates come through Wednesday storm, head for a 'Hawk-tastic life'

A serious storm rolled through Harford County Wednesday evening, with lightning strikes briefly cutting off the sound system in the APG Federal Credit Union Arena as elected officials addressed the North Harford High School graduating class of 2019.

One of the speakers, County Executive Barry Glassman, assured the crowd in the arena on the Harford Community College campus that nearby generators would kick in should the facility lose power.

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“Harford County loves you, rain or shine,” Glassman told the graduates, all dressed in green caps and gowns.

The arena did not lose power during the 69th annual commencement for North Harford, and the ceremony continued without interruption.

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Glassman was one of a handful of elected and appointed officials who spoke to the 280 graduates, along with state Sen. Jason Gallion, Del. Teresa Reilly, County Councilman Chad Shrodes and Board of Education member Joseph Hau.

Hau is taking part in his final Harford County Public Schools graduation season after eight years on the board. He was appointed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2011 and reappointed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2015. His term will end when the new board, a hybrid of nine appointed and elected members, is sworn in in July.

Hau encouraged the North Harford graduates to “make servant leadership one of your top goals” in adult life.

“When you need help, remember our entire Harford County community is here for you,” Shrodes told the students.

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The Class of 2019 also heard from valedictorian Madisyn Ames, who reviewed the many lessons her classmates can take from their various subjects, such as math and science, and apply to adulthood.

“Have a Hawk-tastic life,” she said.

Graduate Kara Kramer, 18, of Abingdon, completed the Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences magnet program — high school students from around Harford County can take part in the magnet program at North Harford’s Pylesville campus.

Kramer plans to study environmental analysis and planning, with a minor in forestry, at Frostburg State University in Western Maryland. She completes high school as a “certified professional horticulturist,” having participated in the plant science strand of the agriculture and natural resources magnet program.

“It was a very good program that further advanced my career, and I loved every minute of it,” she said after the commencement ceremony.

Kramer, who entered North Harford after being home-schooled during her elementary and middle school years, said the faculty and staff were “very supportive and assisted in all aspects of learning.”

Her father, Warren Kramer, said principal Colin Carr and other school administrators made a point of checking in on Kara on a regular basis to ensure she had a successful adjustment to North Harford.

He said school officials and staff go “way above and beyond — the teachers are very impressive to me.”

Male North Harford graduates have worn green caps and gowns, and female graduates wore gold caps and gowns at commencement for many years. All graduates wore green this year, however.

Carr noted several local high schools have changed to one color of cap and gown in recent years, and said the North Harford community “wanted it to be more uniform for everyone” in 2019.

“Caps and gowns have been many colors over the decades, and collectively we just thought it was time for a change,” he said after the ceremony.

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