Hamburg’s Class of 2017 bids farewell

Hamburg Area High School Class of 2017 graduation held on June 9.
Hamburg Area High School Class of 2017 graduation held on June 9. Neven Dries - Digital First Media
Hamburg Area High School Class of 2017 graduation held on June 9.
Hamburg Area High School Class of 2017 graduation held on June 9. Neven Dries - Digital First Media

As Berks County schools shut their doors for the summer, Hamburg Area High School held their 55th annual Commencement on June 9.

Clad in red and white gowns, with a respectable stole around their necks, 163 seniors gathered at Hamburg’s old gymnasium and eagerly waited for 6 o’clock to arrive.

After pictures upon pictures, the excited students lined up along the bleachers, with only idle chatter to sooth their nerves. Once given the cue, the seniors, led by President Jacob Barr, Vice President Darian Schlenker, Secretary Laura Bear, and Treasurer Madelynn Witkus made their way to the new gymnasium to begin the commencement ceremony.

The ceremony opened with salutatorian Joshua Kantner speaking on what the previous four years have meant to him. After describing how he sat through his two brother’s graduations, and hearing similar themes in the speeches, he decided to make an alteration.

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“If these have been the best four years of my life, then I have a very disappointing life.”

Kantner then explained how the best years of our lives “are in front of us, rather than behind us.”

Jenna Kauffman then gave her valedictorian speech, stating how, upon her entrance to Hamburg when she was 14, she had the same goals and mindset that she carried through her four years. While this may seem like a positive, given her earning a valedictorian status, she saw it as a negative.

“It only took a car accident last June to remind me that life could stop at any moment.”

She then continued by saying that her accident was more of a wake-up call, than anything.

Kauffman will be attending Yale University in New Haven Connecticut this upcoming year.

Hamburg Area High School’s Principal Christopher Spohn then began the Presentation of Awards alongside Principal Dr. Stanley Gravish and Senior Class Advisor Teresa McCarthy. The students, as Spohn had put it, were unaware of the awards they have received until the actual ceremony. These awards included scholarships, academic achievements and recognition from the school, community and abroad.

Then came the highly anticipated moment that every student fantasizes about- the Presentation of Diplomas. Beginning with President Barr, each student excitedly followed and finally received their high school diploma. This year, there were a total of 163 graduates with 25 honor students. This was followed by Hamburg’s Superintendent Dr. Richard Mextorf announcing the class of 2017 as graduates.

Though the senior class gift is traditionally something to the school, President Jacob Barr asked Spohn to return to the stage. After 12 years of being Hamburg’s Principal, Spohn was presented with a diploma of his own by the senior class. Barr then proceeded with the Passing of the Gavel ceremony. As tradition goes, the graduating President bestows the comically large gavel to the Junior President, Lyndsey Carr. After accepting the gavel, Hamburg’s Alma Mater was sung as the ceremony concluded.

As some graduates venture immediately into the workforce, some to the military, and some to college, they will do so as now esteemed Hamburg alumni.