It was Ben Cornwell and 114 other graduates’ night to shine Thursday as they graduated from Clear Spring High School.
But when Cornwell stood at the podium to give his speech as class salutatorian, he spoke of his younger sister who learned last summer she has Type 1 diabetes.
She endures at least four shots a day, numerous pricks to the fingers, and deals with stress, a strict diet, and ridicule from her peers, Cornwell said.
She takes all of that and “she runs with it,” Cornwell said.
His younger sister is the source of his inspiration, said Cornwell, who encouraged his classmates and the audience to “Go and find your inspiration, just as I have found mine.”
“You do not have to look hard to find it. Inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere. It is just a matter of looking hard enough to notice it,” said Cornwell, 17, of Clear Spring.
Valedictorian Dave Bright, 18, of Big Pool, talked of defiance, in a good way. He talked about how Clear Spring High students didn’t let North Hagerstown High dictate whether Clear Spring plays tennis, or let Barbara Ingram School for the Arts say whether Clear Spring could put on a performance.
“We did not let those who call us ‘a bunch of rednecks’ stop us from scoring better on tests than most schools in the county,” Bright said.
Clear Spring’s graduates have received $2,868,208 in scholarship offers, guidance counselor Meggan Day said this week.
Class President Rachel House, 18, of Hagerstown, welcomed the audience to the ceremony and called for a moment of silence to remember classmate Quinn Alec Hoover, who died earlier this year.
Hoover was one of four Washington County Public Schools seniors to die during the spring semester. Hoover died from injuries sustained in a car accident.
After he finished reading off the names of the graduates, Assistant Principal Robert J. Beard Jr., said, “And forever in our memories, Quinn Alec Hoover.”
Graduate Emily Winters, 18, of Hagerstown, talked about the effect recent grief had on the class and about moving on with their futures.
“Life is short, why waste another moment,” she said.
“Our world needs us,” Winters said.
Clear Spring High School
Number of graduates: 115
Valedictorian: David Bright
Salutatorian: Benjamin Cornwell