In about three months, Patterson Mill High School graduate Julian Ferdick will be on his way to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C., in the hope of fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a Marine.
“I just wanted to serve the country, really do my duty,” Ferdick, 17, of Abingdon, said following Patterson Mill’s 10th annual commencement Tuesday afternoon. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I was a little kid.”
Ferdick wore a large badge, bearing the Marine Corps’ emblem, on his black graduation gown. He met with his family after the commencement ceremony, when he and about 190 members of the Class of 2019 received their diplomas in the APG Federal Credit Union Arena on Harford Community College’s main Bel Air campus.
“I’m really just glad to be done with it,” he said of finishing high school. “It’s kind of weird to not go to class any more and to not see my friends, but I’m just glad to be done with it.”
Ferdick, the first in his family to join the Corps, said he is scheduled to ship out for boot camp on Sept. 3. The recruit training program lasts 13 weeks, according to the Marines’ website.
Ferdick said the Marines have the longest recruit training out of the other branches of the U.S. military.
“I wanted a challenge so I looked at who had the longest boot camp, and the Marine Corps was it,” he said.
Ferdick praised the staff at Patterson Mill, including the teachers and coaches whom he said “prepared me, leadership-wise, for everything.”
“I was very honored and blessed to have the teachers that I did and to play the sports that I did,” said Ferdick, who ran cross-country, wrestled and played baseball for the Huskies.
Graduate Ana Hughes, 18, of Bel Air, plans to study mass communications at Frostburg State University in Western Maryland.
“I am happy that I graduated, but I’m also sad to leave everyone behind,” she said of the classmates she has known since middle school. “I’ve known these people so long that they’re family.”
Hughes also praised her teachers, whom she said “are no ordinary teachers — they’re just very involved with their students.”
“A lot of my art teachers are the most important teachers in my life,” she said.
Commencement 2019 was a family affair for Vasili Lomis, of Bel Air, who graduated alongside his cousin, Andrew Papageorgopoulos. They shared the moment with siblings, parents and even grandparents, who are from Greece.
“It’s such a great thing, to be able to see him walk across the stage and know that the next steps of his life are about to begin,” Katerina Lomis, 17, said of watching her brother, Vasili, graduate — Katerina will be going into her senior year at Patterson Mill High next year.
Vasili Lomis described graduation as “so exciting,” saying that “I was not expecting it to come so soon; it seemed like high school flew by.”
He plans to study biology at the University of Delaware with the goal of working in the medical field — Lomis said he wants to be a pathologist.
Lomis and his sister lauded the Patterson Mill faculty, especially the science teachers, as both siblings are “science oriented.”
“They help you, not only with studies, but just guide you in life and [on] the right path based on those studies,” Katerina said.