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Embrace life's voyage, Atholton grads urged


"The stars are with the voyager, Wherever he may sail; The moon is constant to her time, But follow, sun will never fail. . . . And so the night is never dark, And day is brighter day . . . "

"The Stars Are With

The Voyager" With those words echoing in their minds, Atholton High School's 26th graduation class received their diplomas at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia last night and set out as voyagers ready to explore the world.

"There's so much we've accomplished, but there's so much more to accomplish," Stacey Marie Williams, senior class president, said in opening remarks. "Never underestimate yourself, and your dreams will come true."

Principal Scott Pfeifer said the 235 graduates in the Class of 1994 will certainly make their mark beyond his school's walls.

"This graduation class has a lot of personality," Mr. Pfeifer said. "I think they are going to achieve a lot of success in life."

He said the class began its legacy years ago, paving the way for the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award Atholton received in October 1993. The U.S. Department of Education gives the award to the top 2 percent of schools in the country, Mr. Pfeifer said.

Guest speaker Susan White-Bowden, broadcast reporter and author, told the graduates to prepare for setbacks but overcome them with diligence and self-esteem.

Before Mrs. White-Bowden spoke, the Atholton Concert Choir sang "The Stars Are With The Voyager," a popular song at the high school. "It's about life's journey," said Ross Rawlings, choir director, who chose it for the occasion. "It says hope is there, but you have to go through obstacles in the middle."

The journey through high school went a bit faster than Joshua Potocko anticipated, but he says he's looking forward to college.

Joshua, who won Most Valuable Player honors for his track skills and who has a 3.8 grade-point average, is to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He wants to be an astronaut.

"[Graduation] leaves the average senior mixed up," Joshua said. "I keep wondering every time I see someone if it's the last time I'll see them."

"I'll definitely miss the people," said Gail Hodges, a graduate. "I was really rewarded with my years at Atholton."

Gail said she found fulfillment in athletics and volunteering at a Baltimore City homeless shelter. This fall, she plans to attend Princeton University. She hopes for a career in business administration.

"This is something special," said Mark Iager, another graduate. "Twelve years of work is finally over."

But now, there's an agriculture degree to be earned from the University of Maryland at College Park so Mark can manage Maple Lawn Farm in Fulton, his family's business.

Mark said he'll miss spending time with "The Hillbillies," a small club of boys in the school who like country music.

"I'll miss raising all the heck we did," Mark said.

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