The weather Saturday didn’t force Bald Eagle Area High School’s commencement ceremony indoors.
Rain drizzled for much of the graduation, and by the time the program was over, more than water fell from the sky. Graduates performed the customary cap toss and also deployed confetti poppers and Silly String in celebration as family and friends cheered.
Superintendent Jeff Miles said that the Class of 2015 is the smallest since the school district consolidated, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in character and excellence. He thanked them for teaching him and the faculty at the school and noted their dedication to service.
“The seniors of 2015 have demonstrated over and over again, it’s not about me, it’s about we,” Miles said
NUMBER OF GRADUATES: 107
WHERE: Alumni Stadium
COLORS: Graduates wore navy blue gowns and caps adorned with blue and gold tassels. National Honor Society members wore a white sash and honors students a gold one.
MUSIC: Graduates marched on the field to English composer Sir Edward Elgar’s traditional graduation song “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by the Bald Eagle Area Symphonic Band. The school concert choir sang the number “Make Them Hear You” from the musical “Ragtime.” Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” was the class song.
VALEDICTORIAN: Madeline Cingle was honored as class valedictorian. Her time at Bald Eagle Area has left her prepared for the next chapter of her life, she said.
“They offered the right classes, like Advanced Placement courses, and the smaller class sizes helped me learn more,” she said.
Cingle will attend Lock Haven University for five years as part of a program that will provide her with a master’s degree upon completion. She hopes for a career in medicine and will study to be a physician’s assistant, although Cingle said she wouldn’t rule out becoming a doctor someday.
POP CULTURE REFERENCE: Cingle gave a speech at the ceremony and drew inspiration from Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” when writing it. The end result was a poem in the rhyme scheme and style used by the beloved author.
SALUTATORIAN: Meghan Shiels was recognized as class salutatorian. She will attend Penn State and is undecided about a major, though she is leaning toward a communications degree. Shiels said she is interested in a career in broadcasting or public relations.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: Members of the Bald Eagle Area Class of 1965 were present at the ceremony and class President Bob Watson offered advice to the graduates about to join him as BEA alumni.
“Be a lifelong learner, thank those who help you, set goals, volunteer, adapt, look forward, maintain friendships and stay connected; more importantly, have fun,” he said.
Watson also observed a similarity between his graduation 50 years ago and the one Saturday: the weather factored in both. He and his classmates were about to take the field when an impending thunderstorm forced them to hold the ceremony inside. Watson joked that the Class of 2015 must be tougher than that of 1965.
FACULTY FAVES: Cody Shaffer said his favorite teacher at Bald Eagle Area was Eric Herr, who teaches English. Shaffer said he enjoyed that class and the sports knowledge Herr often shared.
“He reminds me of my dad,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer will attend Penn College and take courses in heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
MARTIAL SPIRIT: Miles recognized eight graduates who will serve in the military. Two each will serve in the Marines, National Guard, and Army, while one each will serve in the Navy and Army Reserve.
WORDS OF ADVICE: While focusing and working hard at academics is good, graduate Gage Smocer-Hilderbrand said it’s also important for underclassmen to remember to work at being well-rounded through sports and other extracurricular activities.
Smocer-Hilderbrand, who will attend Penn State to study architectural engineering and take part in Army ROTC, certainly had experience in both. He played soccer, ran track and field and was a member of FBLA, National Honor Society and the technology team, he said.
The other piece of advice for younger Eagles is something he said he didn’t start doing until senior year, but admitted he probably should have done sooner.
“Don’t be afraid to ask teachers for help,” he said.