JERSEY SHORE - The Jersey Shore Area High School Class of 2014 took its last march as high school students Saturday morning at the Thompson Street stadium. They marched on to the field as high school students and left as high school graduates.
The ceremony kicked of with graduates walking onto the football field as "Pomp and Circumstance" was played by the Jersey Shore High School Band, with Christopher Lahr directing.
Graduates, parents, friends and guests then were welcomed by district Superintendent Dr. Dorothy Chappel, who said the new grads are well prepared for life after high school.
Jersey Shore Area High School grad Zachary Cromley shakes hands with Grace Naehu, Class of 2014 president, after receiving his diploma on Saturday.
Still, she suggested, they should remember the people who helped them get to graduation day.
The class of 2014 is ready to show the world what it has to offer, Chappel said.
Grace Naehu, Class of 2014 president, told her peers that criticism is heard all throughout high school, but they shouldn't judge others. Instead, focus on self improvement, she said.
"Never let someone tell you that you can't do something," Naehu said.
She also advised the graduates to explore new places with an open mind.
"Go out and do it," Naehu said.
The class of 2014 Salutatorian Leigh Ann Eisenhauer told the graduates how studying abroad in New Zealand helped her realize that Jersey Shore is a great place to call home. She reminded the graduates how members of the community come together to support school events and that many communities do not see that kind of support.
Eisenhauer encouraged the graduates to go out and see the world but also to maintain their small-town values.
"Step out of your comfort zone and do things that scare the hell out of you," Eisenhauer said.
Brennan Eiswerth, class valedictorian, said some of the most important lessons they have learned in high school did not come from textbooks, but rather from experiences and the people around them. One of those lessons is taking interest in people.
"There is always something to be learned, and you never know who will teach it to you," Eiswerth said.
Another lesson is that life is not always fair. He quoted Yogi Berra, saying, "If the world was meant to be perfect, it wouldn't be."
He then told the graduates that the lessons they learned in high school will be long lasting.
High school principals Reed Mellinger and Steven Keen recognized the graduates who have maintained a grade-point average of 90 percent or higher for four years or more.
As the ceremony came to a close, the Jersey Shore alma mater was sung. When the words "is the orange and black" rang out, the graduates threw their caps high in the air in celebration of their achievement.