The Shippensburg Area Senior High School Class of 2021 Greyhounds reached the finish line Tuesday as they celebrated commencement, and the anticipation of the next chapter of their lives.

While much of the ceremony was sunny and humid, dark clouds rolled in over SU’s Seth Grove Stadium, and the skies opened up before the last string of graduates could cross the stage, soaking everyone in attendance and leaving them scampering for the shelter of their vehicles.

It wasn’t the best way to end their high school careers, but it will be something to laugh about while reminiscing down the road.

The ceremony began with commencement speeches by Student Council President Ethan Rosenberry and Superintendent Dr. Chris Suppo.

Rosenberry noted, “At last, our Greyhounds have dug deep and pushed forward to achieve victory. We may run under different banners to different destinations, but we are together in that we are all Greyhounds determined to reach victory, Class of 2021. Our lifelong race lies in front of us. Before you continue your next leg, thank someone for the positive support they’ve had on your life. It may be a teacher, a parent or a mentor. Someone who has always been in your corner to cheer you on.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced the Class of 2020 to celebrate their commencement in a very informal and distanced ceremony, without many loved ones present. Since the pandemic has stretched into 2021, the district administration wasn’t sure a formal ceremony would be possible for the second graduating class in a row.

Suppo said, “A few short months ago, we didn’t know this would happen. We must thank Shippensburg University President Dr. Laurie Carter and so many others here at the university who have shown what it is to be good neighbors.”

“You have undoubtedly had many moments of turmoil in your life since that first day you walked into your kindergarten class,” Suppo continued. “Without question, this past year has been more difficult than any other for most. Your lives will continue to be a collection of experiences and firsts. Some good and some less so. They should inform you, but never hold you back. They should direct you, but never have you turn in fear or give up. This is an exciting time in your life. You will have new experiences and opportunities as you leave the hallways of SASHS. Use your skills and what you’ve learned to select the best opportunities. But don’t discount any of them solely on the fact that they are new and unfamiliar to you. You, as the Class of 2021, have never quit. You have endured many challenges and overcome many obstacles. We wish you well and have complete confidence that you will make us proud. You already have. Congratulations.”

Shippensburg Area Senior High School Class of 2021 sent off some final words while they gathered with their friends before commencement.

Valedictorian Alexa Henry plans to attend Messiah University for a Bachelor’s in Psychology and go on to receive a Master’s in Occupational Therapy.

“Take in every moment that you can because time flies,” she said in advice to underclassmen. “This year has shown how true that is. Just spend time with your friends and make it memorable.”

“I enjoyed my time at Shippensburg,” she added. “The teachers were very nice and I’ve learned a lot. It was a great time.”

Donny Thomas plans on working at Volvo CE after graduation. His advice for the underclassmen is, “Stay in school and don’t do drugs.”

Elijah Hafer also sends out words of encouragement for the incoming seniors.

He said, “Do your work and choose what you’re interested in.”

Glenn Hurst expressed his gratitude for having the commencement together with his fellow classmates.

“It’s nice for the graduates to have this ceremony,” he said. “Enjoy your last year because life will hit you with the real world soon.”

“I will miss a few teachers,” said Calista Smith “But to the next seniors, have fun.”

Brittany Martin will be going to Shippensburg University to study Early Education. Martin also said she enjoyed her time as a Shippensburg high school student.

“It was good,” she said. “I liked all of my teachers. To the underclassmen, get involved and do lots of activities.”

Rachel Connor will be attending Lancaster Bible College for Early Childhood Education.

“My advice for the students is to enjoy every moment and have fun,” she said. “I liked how the teachers took time to get to know every student and have a relationship with each of us.”

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