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Commencement speaker and alumnus tells grads ‘Be ready for the call’

By Staff | Jun 20, 2018

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Standing in the front line waiting to enter the Montgomery Area Athletic and Community Center before receiving their diplomas are seniors Madeline M. Wenner, Grace Rose Bopp, Noah J. Eshenaur, Valedictorian, and Courtney G. Skelton, Salutatorian.

MONTGOMERY – One hundred and fourteen years ago the first commencement took place at Montgomery High School. Now the class of 2018 came forward to accept their diplomas on Friday night, June 8 in the Montgomery Area Athletic and Community Center. Prior to 7 p.m. a small class of 49 students anxiously stood outside sharing last minute thoughts and future plans before entering the traditional balloon covered arch to the song “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Superintendent Daphne Bowers opened the ceremony with a sharing goal, and the best opportunity to provide students with resources to be “happy, productive citizens.” And the good news was that Montgomery’s graduation ceremony was being live streamed for the first time on the district’s website.

After thanking his parents, teachers and coaches, Valedictorian, Noah Eshenaur who is heading to Shippensburg University, gave a reminiscing speech to his classmates starting with his freshman year. “We did not lay down and give up,” he said. “We made it to the sophomore year.” Time management became an important tool, he related as Noah kept setting goals each year. “I knew there was something on the other side. We will become freshmen again, but at a higher level.”

Salutatorian Courtney Skelton is going to start her new academic year at Penn State University with a major in graphic design. “We finally did it,” she told her class. “We have the ability to keep moving forward,” she said with hopes of someday sharing her high school years at Montgomery with her kids and tell them “all the crazy things we did. Learn to love yourself, and live the happiest life you can. Find those to make you happy and hold onto them.”

Torey Harding from the class of 2009 was keynote speaker. He noted that his successful career with Starstruck Entertainment in Nashville was a result of his time spent in Montgomery. He grew up in Elimsport and started playing the guitar at the age of 6, then took music lessons through the Uptown Music club in Williamsport. After graduation from high school, Harding pursued a career in English Education but found music to be his love and graduated from Berklee School of Music in 2010. He has performed with opening acts for Reba McIntyre and Kelly Clarkson, plus other music celebrities. “I realize how lucky I was to grow up in a community like this,” he told the senior class. “This place I call home.” Harding then shared 3 stories about his life that connected him to Montgomery. He came to a realization that one way to be rich in life, is to want little. He discovered this when he came across an article he read in the New York Times while traveling in an airplane. “This showed me the importance of finding what you love in life and go for it,” he advised. “Follow your dreams and chase them as far as you can, at 150 miles an hour. Know what drives you.”

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Corey Harding from the class of 2009 was guest speaker at the 114th annual graduation ceremony for Montgomery High School on Friday night, June 9.

His high school English teacher was another influence. He learned to read books, listen to music, watch films and hold big discussions. It was this work ethic that he feels led to his success. “I challenge you to put down the cell phones and have conversations with people.”

A third inspiration was a song he would listen to by the Beatles. “I would listen to it over and over,” Harding said. “Take time to listen to your favorite song. Read your favorite book. Celebrate the good and hard times. Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.”

Harding ended with a quote from Livingston Taylor, a singer and songwriter. “It is a shame to be ready, and not get the call; but a tragedy to get the call, and not be ready.”

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Colorful hats with poignant sayings decorated the backs of the seniors’ graduation caps during Montgomery’s commencement.