Josh Sheppard, one of the newest Aberdeen High School graduates, plans to study music education at West Virginia University and start a career as a music teacher.
His classmate, Melanie Findeisen, aspires to either manage or own her own bakery, or be a pastry chef in a restaurant.
Findeisen, 18, of Aberdeen, is taking business management classes at Harford Community College, and she plans to continue to study the same subject over the next two years at HCC. She plans to eventually continue her education at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia.
They and about 300 of their classmates in the AHS Class of 2018, who crossed the stage at the school’s 110th commencement Tuesday evening, are looking toward their next steps after high school.
They are also leaving behind a school that one of two student speakers, Richard Thrutchley, called “a special place.”
The commencement was held at the APG Federal Credit Union Arena at HCC. Graduates gathered with friends and family outside the arena following the ceremony.
“I am relieved, I am happy, but I am also sad because I will miss sitting at the tables with my friends, and I will miss the awesome teachers,” Findeisen said. “I am happy because I am moving on; I am gong to other schools and starting my life and my career.”
Sheppard, 18, of Havre de Grace, said he is sad to leave “a bunch of friends.”
“I’m very happy and blessed to graduate and pursue my career,” he said.
Sheppard played tuba in the AHS band for four years, and he was named the first chair tuba player in Maryland’s All State Band his senior year.
“That means best player in the state,” his private tuba instructor, Bridgette Bell, said.
Bell took photos of Sheppard and his family outside the arena. She gives private tuba lessons, and she is the band director and music department chair for Edgewood Middle School.
“I’m really excited to see the accomplishments that he’s made over the years and his next steps at West Virginia University,” Bell said.
‘Leaders of tomorrow’
Student speaker Thrutchley, who completed the rigorous Science and Mathematics Academy magnet program at AHS, said he will not miss the schoolwork, but he will miss the friends “who have kept me somewhat sane through it all,” and he will miss the teachers who gave him lessons in not just academics, “but how to be a better person.”
Thrutchley said he applied to the SMA program while in the eighth grade at North Harford Middle School — a math teacher gave him the application.
“Aberdeen is a special place with a diverse mix of students, who couldn’t be more different, coming together for a single purpose, to learn,” he said.
He also praised how Aberdeen High students give their all, no matter what activity.
“No matter what it is — sports, music, dance or art — there’s no other school that gives 110 percent to everything they do,” he said.
Thrutchley’s fellow student speaker, Amber Bodrick, said she came to Aberdeen from her former high school in Alabama, meaning she had to make new friends and learn the culture of a school where she did not know anybody.
She graduated among young people she called “the leaders of tomorrow” and “the bridge into the future.”
Bodrick said some 2018 graduates will attend colleges around the country, some will join the military and others will go into the workforce.
“No matter what your path will be, just know that we are the class that will make a difference in the world,” she said.
Bodrick told her classmates that “this is our time to show the world that we believe we are the future.”
Tim Lindecamp, a member of the AHS Class of 1978, shared his experiences with the Class of 2018. Forty years after his high school graduation, Lindecamp is the athletic director at his alma mater and an Aberdeen City Council member.
“Once you graduate, you will have joined a bond that I’ll have with you the rest of our lives, and that will be alumni of Aberdeen High School and I’m pretty proud of that,” he said.
Lindecamp said becoming a teacher and coach at AHS was “probably one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.”
He said he believes Aberdeen was where “I got my best education,” not in science, math or social studies, but in life.
He asked the seniors to look around at their classmates and in the stands at their parents and guardians.
“Look how multicultural we are as a school, look at how multicultural we are as a community,” he said.
Lindecamp said “that is where I got my life lesson.”
“If I could get along and work with people totally different from me — different religious, different backgrounds — then I knew that would carry me through life,” he said.