06/14/09 — Eastern Wayne graduates tell each other to follow dreams

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Eastern Wayne graduates tell each other to follow dreams

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 14, 2009 2:00 AM

An hour-long ceremony must have flown by for Sarah Urdzik.

It was the last four years that have "gone on forever," the Eastern Wayne High School valedictorian told her peers Saturday morning.

"It took us long enough, right?" she asked them at the onset of her speech.

But for some of the family members and friends of those 289 students moving on as of this weekend, graduation was a somber celebration.

"In a selfish way, I'm going to miss her so much when she goes to school," said Annie Williams, whose only niece was among those turning their tassels. "But, of course, I'm still so proud."

The graduates, themselves, were proud, too -- and confident about their future prospects.

Even their class motto, "Yes we can," was inspired by the theme of overcoming odds.

You could sense it during Katy Mazer's speech, when the class salutatorian challenged the Class of 2009 to change the world.

"I stand before this class and want to celebrate who we are and who we can become," she said. "We all have so much to offer the world, no matter what it may be. ... We have the opportunity to contribute to the history of our country ... and the world."

Sarah agreed.

"Don't wait to seize opportunities," she said. "Don't wait to get out there and find your vocation or calling in life ... we all have an important role to play."

Many of their peers, though, weren't ready to focus on chasing their dreams or joining the work force during the ceremony and in the moments after.

They wanted to let the memories unfolding set it.

Like when Alden Pridgen walked across the stage and exchanged a smile with her father, Rick.

Only he wasn't catching a glimpse of his daughter's big moment from somewhere in the crowd.

He was the school board member who presented her with an Eastern Wayne diploma.

Or when Clark Poston focused on post-graduation hugs -- like the long embrace he shared with his friend, Lauren Richards.

Even Sarah took time to reflect on things other than the momentous day at hand and those sure to follow, drawing cheers when she mentioned the school's baseball team and its run to the state championship game.

But in the end, for everyone, the morning was about dreams of the years to come -- if only for a moment.

For the parents, a portion of the dreams they first had for their children years ago were realized.

And for the students, theirs are still out in the world waiting to be -- for the relatively short time their generation will "rule the world."

"Life is short. I know we often get tired of hearing that, especially from our parents and grandparents, but I think they are right," Sarah said. "Sometimes, we don't realize how fast life goes until it's already half over. ... So don't wait in life to pursue your dreams."