NEW MANCHESTER - On the last day of their high school career, after hundreds of hours of classroom time, the Oak Glen High School Class of 2013 graduated Tuesday with one last lesson from Principal Barbara Logue.
"The difference between success and failure is not chance, but a choice," Logue told the 120 graduates Tuesday night during Oak Glen's 50th-annual commencement exercises.
In remarks to the graduates prior to dispensing diplomas, Logue quoted from Brian Tracy's "The Power of Discipline," telling them, "Self-discipline will help you to set clear goals, but you need to work to meet these goals every day."
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE — Oak Glen High School held commencement exercises Tuesday for the 120 members of the Class of 2013. - Stephen Huba
Logue also stressed the importance of character, time management, personal health and responsibility. She left the graduates with a word of advice from her father, a Hungarian immigrant. "When you go out into the world," she said, "always remember to be nice to everyone."
The graduation ceremony saw the OGHS gymnasium fill nearly to capacity with friends, family and well-wishers.
"This is your moment," student council President Jennifer Mangano of Chester told her fellow graduates. "This is your moment to reflect ... to give thanks ... to dream."
Mangano, one of 11 high honors graduates, said, "Right now, you have the potential to do anything you want to do. But most importantly, be happy and make other people happy."
As they dressed and prepared to walk the halls one more time, several graduates said they will take with them not just book knowledge but life knowledge.
"I feel that all my teachers helped prepare me for life - not to procrastinate, to be organized, to have a good attitude," said high honors graduate Garrett Brown of New Cumberland.
Brown said his teachers, especially those who "seemed like they enjoyed their jobs," were instrumental in him choosing the career path of secondary education.
Brown said he will most miss the teachers he is close to, friends who are going to other colleges and friends who have yet to finish high school.
Taylor Swartzmiller of Chester said she took a speech class at Oak Glen that taught her how to prepare for a job interview and present herself well. "Recently, for a job interview ... I knew what to do," she said.
Swartzmiller, the daughter of state Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, said her favorite class at Oak Glen was human anatomy, taught by Paul Quattrone. "He teaches in a way that it just clicks in your head," she said.
Her friend, Kaitlyn Smith of Chester, said classes at Oak Glen taught her how to get along with people and work with others. She especially enjoyed group work and the civics and economics classes of Adam Howell, whom she praised for his use of technology in the classroom.
"It prepared me for college ... and for what life is going to be like," said Smith.
Josh Weltner of New Cumberland also praised the speech class and Quattrone's anatomy class. The speech class, he said, taught him basic communication skills. "I think that helped a lot of students," he said.