Dalton J. Hake, right,  gets a hug from his aunt, Lorie Ward, left, prior to West York graduation.
Dalton J. Hake, right, gets a hug from his aunt, Lorie Ward, left, prior to West York graduation. (Bil Bowden photo)

Under dark skies threatening a downpour, West York Area High School held commencement exercises Wednesday night.

The 206 graduates, all clad in dark blue robes, processed onto the football field where their own West York Bulldogs went 13-1 last season to earn a District 3 final appearance.

In her opening remarks, superintendent Emilie Lonardi charted the changes from the year 2000, when this year's class came into the district as kindergartners, to now.

"Time has flown. They were so little and cute. Now they're ready to emerge as young men and women into an ever-changing world," she said.

Among the changes, she said, was that people now carry cell phones with them.

"And people check their cell phones every six minutes. Resist the urge," she joked.

She gave the graduates three pieces of advice: Time and the world do not stand still, part of a John F. Kennedy quote; do something that matters, part of a quote by author Daniel Pink; and education is the most powerful weapon, part of a quote from Nelson Mandela.

"We wish you endless success," she added.

Class valedictorian Brady Bushover drew from less literary and more pop-culture oriented sources for his speech. Titled "Just Keep Swimming," a line from Disney Pixar's 2003 hit "Finding Nemo."

"The sea of life is full of challenges," Bushover said, adding that his classmates had "learned to ride the waves."

"We're always swimming upstream. Just keep swimming," he said.

Ciara Stough, class salutatorian, challenged her classmates to "look back over your years of school at the lessons learned not with regret or sadness, for they have molded you into who you are today."

"Look up into the future. There's not much there yet, but we have established our potential. Look back, look down, look up," she advised.

Chad Bumsted, acting high school principal, praised the class for their moral compass.

"You know how to win with class, and lose with dignity," he said. He told them to remember the "memories earned and lessons learned," and to let their "moral compass be a guide for life and a lifelong testament to West York."

After diplomas were conferred and the graduates turned their tassels, Adrian Campbell, class president, gave the final address.

"We are prepared for what is to come," he said, thanks to the teachers and staff at West York. In preparing his speech, he had flipped through yearbooks. The 2010 yearbook - the class's freshman year - had the motto "leaving our mark."

"The little things you do leave the biggest mark," he said.

As fat raindrops began to fall and parents began to exit the stadium en masse, Maxine Stough and Brianna Weaver sang the school's alma mater and the band played the recessional song, "Grand March," by Clare Grundman.

West York Area High School Class of 2013

Number of graduates: 206

Graduation ceremony held: June 12 in the football stadium

Valedictorian: Brady R. Bushover

Salutatorian: Ciara N. Stough

Other speakers: Emilie Lonardi, district superintendent; Chad M. Bumsted, acting principal; Rodney E. Drawbaugh, school board president; Adrian L. Campbell, class president.