Perhaps the most common phrase of advice scribbled in yearbooks is the one that should be most ignored.
Hatboro-Horsham High School senior Erika Exton noted “Don’t ever change” is written many times in middle school yearbooks.
“If we had ultimately followed that advice, we would still be awkward eighth-graders … and we would still be nervous about the first day of school,” the valedictorian said as she addressed her classmates.
“Luckily I have changed over the course of four years at HH. I hope that all of you also realize that you have changed from the person you were four years ago.”
And the 411 members of the Hatboro-Horsham Class of 2014 celebrated one momentous change as they received their diplomas and completed their high school careers June 9.
After stormy skies forced the ceremony to be held inside the school’s auditorium, family and friends packed the bleachers and watched on as alternating rows of red and black caps and gowns filled the space.
“This evening’s ceremony is a culmination of hard work and achievement on a variety of levels,” Principal Dennis Williams — a Hatboro-Horsham graduate himself — said in his opening remarks.
Salutatorian Connor Willison thanked the school’s staff for their inspiration, family members for their encouragement and his classmates for their commitment to success as they completed their time at high school, which he termed “one of life’s great crossroads.”
Willison encouraged his classmates to continue recognizing the abilities of those around them while discovering their own individual skills as they move into the next chapter of their lives.
“The secret to success is to respect the talents of others as you recognize your own,” he said.
Exton urged her classmates to celebrate the changes they have all made during the last four years and to continue to change for the better in the future — but not without remembering their foundation at Hatboro-Horsham.
“After today, we will be branching off to go our own ways, and we will surely be changing along the way,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean we should just forget everything we have learned here at HH. Don’t change your essence.
“Please, please, allow yourselves to change,” she said. “Allow these new experiences to help you grow without losing sight of the things you have already accomplished.”
Follow Thomas Celona on Twitter @ThomasCelona.