That was the message, and, eventually, the chant, of commencement speaker Jonathan Queen to the graduating class of William Penn Senior High School Friday night at Small Field.
Queen, who mentors York students and is an author, told the 213 orange-and-blue clad graduates they had done well to overcome all the challenges they've faced, from Sept. 11, 2001, to budget cuts to negative perceptions.
"You wanted to prove your haters wrong," Queen said.
And, as Superintendent Deborah Wortham said, they did just that.
The class whose motto was "It Ends With Us" made a point to end some bad trends.
The graduation rate, which hovered around 70 percent in recent years, is up to 83 percent this year, Wortham said. Attendance rates went from 89.4 percent last year to 91.3 percent this year. And students were accepted to 49 different colleges.
"They said you couldn't do it," Wortham said as she pointed out they did everything they set out to do.
Wortham said all of the seniors met the requirements of the Bearcat Bold, her new policy that required students to apply to college, do community work, go to class, take the SAT and meet other standards in order to walk at graduation. It's a standard adhered to by the top high schools in the country, and now by William Penn, she told the audience.
Class president Marissa Scone told the graduates they had managed to overcome three high school principals and two superintendents, in part because of the support around them.
"You have remained committed to us," she told the crowd.
The crowd was attending an outdoor ceremony because of the seniors.
After the district initially planned an indoor ceremony as in recent years, seniors came together for a formal presentation to Wortham asking to graduate on the football field. They even made $3,000 in fundraising.
"Look at what we did this year. We made graduation happen outside," said salutatorian Kathryn Fogleman.
William Penn Senior High School Class of 2012
Number of graduates: 213
Ceremony held: June 8 at Small Field
Valedictorian: Bethany Lauer
Salutatorian: Kathryn Fogleman
Other speakers: Class president Marissa Scone, author Jonathan Queen, Superintendent Deborah Wortham