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Departing North Harford principal calls Class of 2015 an 'impressive group of young people'

Although he was presiding over his last commencement as principal of North Harford High School, Ed Herbold did not give a tearful speech, and he kept the proceedings moving briskly Wednesday as the 352 members of the school's Class of 2015 were celebrated.

Herbold, who will retire after the school year ends, heaped praise on the graduates, extolling their accomplishments, such as earning more than $8.2 million in scholarships.

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"You're an impressive group of young people, who have worked hard to accomplish some amazing things," he said.

Herbold told the graduates that their "potential is without limits." He encouraged them to "believe in something larger than yourselves" and to "treat people with respect and dignity."

"I am honored to have been your principal and am personally blessed to have crossed your paths," he said.

North Harford's 65th annual commencement ceremony was held in the APG Federal Credit Union Arena, the fifth Harford County Public Schools high school commencement held there this week, with more to follow.

Herbold praised HCC staff for their efforts helping to put on the ceremonies.

"We are sincerely appreciative of your welcoming spirit," he said.

Long-serving English teacher Linda Duncan will also retire at the end of the school year. She was acknowledged during Wednesday's commencement, too.

Two student speakers, Scott Angstadt, president of the senior class, and valedictorian Savannah Shaul, shared their thoughts on completing high school.

"We made it," Angstadt said. "We survived everything."

He said the best part of each day for him was when he would smile and greet a fellow student and get a smile in return.

"You have changed my life in the most positive way and have personally made a difference, and I am honored to be your friend," Angstadt said.

Shaul talked about saying goodbye to North Harford, which she said "has been a common home for all of us" during the past four years.

She called Herbold "the best role model a bunch of young students could ever ask for," and she also praised Duncan for her efforts to make her students the best writers they could be.

"We will forever be tied together as Hawks and continue to extend the North Harford community all across the globe," she told her classmates.

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Shaul encouraged her classmates to be leaders and change the world, to end hunger, cure diseases and create world peace.

"Every single one of us can be influential in society, and every single one of us has the potential to change the world," she said.

Harford County Board of Education member Thomas Fitzpatrick, County Executive Barry Glassman and County Councilman Chad Shrodes, who is a graduate of North Harford, shared their words of wisdom.

Shrodes told the graduates that he is "thankful" for his experience at North Harford, "and I hope you share the pride I feel each time I return."

Glassman said Harford County has been educating its children since 1773, three years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

"You certainly carry that tradition of excellence as you move forward," he told the graduates.

Friends and relatives of each graduate cheered as his or her name were called as diplomas were handed out.

Clare Owings, of Jarrettsville, cheered excitedly as she heard her 18-year-old daughter Alexis' name.

"It's exciting," she said of seeing her daughter walk across the stage.

Owings said Alexis will major in general studies next year at HCC.

Alexis' older sister, Caitlin, a 2009 North Harford grad, took photos of the ceremony from the arena stands.

"She's not a baby anymore," she said of watching her sister graduate. "It's kind of unreal to see her walk across the stage.

Caitlin Owings, 23, is studying chemistry at the University of Maryland at College Park. She said her high school commencement was held in the Aberdeen High School gym.

"This is super nice," she said of the APGFCU Arena. "They definitely needed this facility. It's nice that all the schools in Harford County can share this."

Owings said Herbold was a vice principal when she attended North Harford.

"All the students loved Mr. Herbold," she said.

The graduates gathered on a patio at the rear of the arena after the ceremony for a ceremonial tossing of their caps.

Adam Davis, 18, of Pylesville, talked with his family outside the arena.

"Good time, going to miss everyone," he said when asked about his thoughts on graduation.

He called Herbold "the best principal at North Harford, hands down. There'll never be another one."

Davis said he plans to work full time for a heating and air conditioning installation firm.

Brittany Hadaway, 17, of Forest Hill, said she plans to major in jazz and commercial composition at Towson University next year.

She talked about leaving the classmates she has known since middle school.

"I'm really excited [about graduation], but I'm also sad, because I've known most of these people for the past seven years, and most of them, I won't ever see again, so it's bittersweet," she said.

Brittany praised Herbold.

"I love him," she said. "He's a great man. He's never forgotten my name, and I'm really going to miss him; he's the best principal I've ever had."

She also praised Duncan, who was her AP English teacher.

"She's great," Brittany said. "She always pushes us to be better writers. She's always very sassy and very funny, so class was never boring with Ms. Duncan."

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