From a football state championship runner-up to a regionally-winning soccer team to a majority of students taking Advanced Placement classes, Havre de Grace High School's Class of 2016 has accomplished more than its fair share, senior class president Joshua Starkey said.
"I am not afraid to declare the Class of 2016 is the best to walk the halls of Havre de Grace High," he told his 141 classmates and their friends and relatives as they gathered in the school auditorium Thursday to celebrate their graduation.
He encouraged the Class of 2016 to always try to live up to their best vision of themselves.
"Create in your mind who you want to be, and I am not going to say LeBron James or Bill Gates. They are already taken," he said. Although students might not live up to the vision of themselves, "if you try, you will get pretty close."
"Thank you, Class of 2016, for one awesome ride," he said before thanking the community "for helping us create memories that will last a lifetime."
Valedictorian Emma Stump said the school's relatively small size means students have more chances to fit in.
"Because we are such a small school, it was never too difficult to find a place where we belonged," she said. "We had a truly amazing senior year that we are likely to remember for the rest of our lives."
Today's students have much more advanced technology, and "we belong to a generation that is completely different from the one that graduated even five years ago," she said.
People may think they are obsessed with technology "but they are just wrong," she said. The Class of 2016 lived up to the school's motto of "Enter to learn, leave to serve," and "we are by no means finished learning."
City Mayor Bill Martin addressed "the C students" in the class, whom he said he recognized by "that look on your face."
Martin got some laughs from recalling how the diploma he got in 1992 included a sticker with the note "See you in summer school," and how an aptitude test once informed his parents he should be a gravedigger.
Although some students are unsure of what they want to do, "there is one thing I can promise you, the A students and the C students: you have no idea where you are going to be five years from now. You might think you do, but you don't."
"This country needs good men and good women, not just academically, but good men and women who have a good work ethic, integrity, good friends, good moral character," Martin said.
"This is the United States of America, and this country is looking for good people, and you are doing well. You are a Warrior. You drink water from the Susquehanna and you walk the streets of Havre de Grace," he said.
State Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, who graduated from the school in 1985, said: "We try very hard to see that students around the state of Maryland are equipped to go into their future."
She said she knows first-hand that the faculty has prepared students well for the future, and "we expect great things from you."
Before the ceremony began, several seniors said they were both excited about moving on and nervous about leaving their school and community.
Havre de Grace High "is nice if you stay out of the drama," Alex Barber said. "I am excited that my journey is coming to an end."
She plans to eventually go to Towson University and study to become a doctor.
Bethany Scarborough, who will be going into the Marines, called high school "a roller coaster" and said she could not believe graduation had arrived.
Kerry Penrow said she was "nervous but ready to get out." She will be attending Harford Community College and wants to be a teacher.
Logan Pentz, Logan Dellecese and John Riley were chatting in the gym and all had different plans. Pentz is shipping off with the Navy in 15 months, Dellecese will be working with Amtrak and Riley is headed to HCC to study journalism.
"Looking back, I should have paid attention more, because this really came up fast," Pentz said about the end of school.
Dellecese said: "There were good times and bad times, but the darkness can show you the light."
He said he will remember his teachers and Spirit Week.
Pentz also said he will "remember how hard we had to work," as the facilities at the school are not exactly state-of-the-art.
"To go through it, you had to struggle," he said.