OCEAN CITY - Ocean City High School's Class of 2013 began their high school careers in primitive times four years ago, their valedictorian, David Gilhooley, said Wednesday.
There was no Twitter or Instagram, he noted at his speech during the graduation ceremony at the school Wednesday. The iPhone had just come out and Gilhooley's own cellphone "would flip open, and that was about it," he said.
Gilhooley and salutatorian Nathan Roberts reflected Wednesday on the past four years they and the rest of the 311-member class experienced at the school.
The valedictorian asked his classmates not to be defined by the technology that has become so much a part of their generation, but to figure out who each person truly is on his or her own.
"We need those brief moments of quiet to get our thoughts together to figure out who we really are without anyone else butting in," he said. "So take out your ear buds, put your phone away and listen to the silence. In the void that follows when you separate from everyone, what do you hear? What kind of person are you, and who do you want to be? What are you doing here? And are you happy?"
Others will try to make these decisions for you, Gilhooley said. But life will be much easier if you walk into it knowing what you want to get out of it.
"There will be decisions, and eventually mistakes, but make sure they are your mistakes," he said. "Don't let them be anyone else's."
Roberts also discussed the beginning of the class's time at OCHS as the students prepare for the next stage of their life.
"Four years ago, our names meant nothing to this school. Four years ago, we were just another group of freshmen, preparing to start four more years of education," he said. "But now, our names have been etched into the history of this building. … Our years in this building have come to a close; it is time to pass on the torch to a new generation. Regardless of rank or accomplishments, the time has come to enter the next phase of our lives with open minds and a clean slate."
The students, dressed in red and white robes, were given one last piece of advice by Superintendent Kathleen Taylor before their names were read aloud in front of the audience at the field.
"Always keep that sense of hope with you. It will give you greater optimism," she said. "Don't ever give it up, don't ever give it away and don't ever take it for granted."
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