Graduates march in as they take part in the Mainland Regional High School graduation Thursday, June 20, 2013.

Edward Lea

LINWOOD — Mainland Regional High School graduated its Class of 2013, which commencement speakers defined as “different” and “unique.”

The 343 graduates marched onto the football field before a standing-room-only crowd on a sunny final day of spring Thursday.

Jessica Dyrek, of Northfield, the selected speaker for the class, said “no one word can really describe them.”

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“The Class of 2013 is fun,” Dyrek said. “We are respectful, we are most certainly smart, we are unpredictable, and we are strong. The best word to define our class, though, is different. Different in every good way possible. Different in the sense that we are all the same, yet each and every one of us has the ability to stand out. Different in the way that we not only look and speak, but in the way we behave; as individuals and as a whole.”

Salutatorian Shannon Meglathery, of Northfield, asked, “Want to know about our senior year?”

“Since the first day of school this year, there was a continuous loop in the back of my mind saying, ‘I’m ready, I’m ready’,” Meglathery said. “The greatest challenge of this year was dragging myself out of bed 180 times. We all have woken up for school at 7:45 and thought to ourselves, ‘Oh well, I guess I’m not wearing any pants today!’ On a grander scale, I spent less time focusing on what I couldn’t change, and more time on accepting reality, especially in regards to the college process. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, only how they are played.”

Valedictorian Morgan Rann, of Linwood, joked about how the class all came together from three separate towns, Linwood, Northfield and Somers Point, “and became one here at Mainland Regional. It is a scientific miracle that when you mix a cardinal, a panther and a jaguar, you get a mustang.”

“Just like the bricks and tiles that make up Mainland, our legacy as the class that reshaped Mainland will last long into the future,” Rann said. “The Class of 2013 is unique in that we have never taken no for an answer. We have never backed down from a challenge. We have accomplished what people insisted would be impossible. We held classes during a construction upheaval, where our teachers had to compete with the sounds of drills and hammers. ... We have turned tragedy into victory, and although we are forever changed by the loss of our peers, friends and teammates, we will never forget their legacy. Finally, with the support of this community, we became the most Undeniable school in the nation.”

Included in the list of graduates in the program were Nicholas Conner, of Northfield, and Dean Khoury, of Linwood, who died in a crash in 2011. They were listed with hearts next to their names, which signified that they were “in our hearts, but no longer with us.”

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