Graduates fling their caps high in the air in a final moment of celebration.

By Donald Wittkowski

Hiba Ahmad recalled how she clumsily walked into a door during her first-period class on her first day as a freshman at Ocean City High School four years ago.

“Not through. Into,” she noted. “I was so embarrassed, I wanted to melt into the ground and disappear. If this was how high school would go, I thought, I’d never graduate.”

But Ahmad, who is heading to Georgetown University, now stands on the threshold of walking “through” many doors. She graduated Thursday as valedictorian of the Ocean City High School Class of 2017 and assured her classmates that they, too, will join her in walking through those doors of opportunity during their lives.

“No matter how many tries it takes, we’ll pass through any door. And we’ll be proud of the person who walks through,” Ahmad said in her valedictory address during the commencement ceremonies.

Graduates march into Carey Stadium while flanked by school administrators and faculty.

Clad in red and white robes reflecting the school colors, a total of 315 graduates received their diplomas under sun-splashed skies at Carey Stadium. In a final, celebratory act to bring their four years of high school to a close, they tossed their caps high in the air amid cheers and applause.

Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Taylor called the Class of 2017 “always spectacular.”

In offering three pieces of advice to the graduates, Taylor humorously patched together a series of metaphors symbolizing the challenges they will face throughout their lives and how to overcome them.

Steering them toward a path of financial stability, she told them the first thing they should do is to save a nickel. She urged them to put aside an even larger amount each time they save later on to build up enough to last a lifetime.

“You are not saving for a rainy day. You are saving for your life,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Taylor calls the Class of 2017 “always spectacular.”

Taylor also suggested that they should “find a good car mechanic.” Alluding to the struggles the graduates will face ahead as adults, she stressed they will need to find reliable people, including friends, family members and car mechanics, they can always count on.

Finally, Taylor reminded them of the importance of family. She said the latest research indicates that the graduates may live to the ripe old age of 104, so they should always recognize the love and support given to them by their family throughout their lives.

“Remember, in life, it has been, and always will be, about your family,” she said.

Kimberly Brown, left, is class salutatorian and Hiba Ahmad is valedictorian.

Ahmad, meanwhile, told her fellow graduates that they should learn to “love themselves” and to accept the fact that they will make mistakes as they continue their lives after high school.

“So let’s do it,” Ahmad said. “The world for us now is a blank slate. No excuses. Be the person you always wanted to be. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

“Graduating, and going out into the world, is a lot like potty training, only messier,” she continued, drawing laughter from the crowd. “We are going to have accidents, and we shouldn’t let anybody tell us that’s not okay. Because we’ll get to where we need to be.”

Kimberly Brown, class salutatorian, said in her commencement remarks that high school graduation marks a “pivotal transition” in life that reflects the bravery and courage within all of the students.

“During high school, we made many decisions that required courage, and we made the conscious choice to battle through our fears,” said Brown, who will attend Brown University. “Perhaps we feared pushing ourselves academically, telling our parents something, or voicing our opinions.

“Whether or not we took a risk and did these things anyway, we should all be proud of ourselves for having been brave,” Brown added. “We’ve had to see that while blending in is easier, those who challenge the status quo make the most profound impact on the world. These people are leaders; these people are lights in the darkest surroundings. When we are brave, we drive change forward or fight against bad things.”

Crowds packing the grandstand at Carey Stadium watch the commencement ceremony

*Be sure to check-out our graduation pictures on Facebook.

The following is the list of the 2017 Ocean City High School graduates:

**Patricia Mary Abenante

**Christian Dennis Adams

Rebecca Leigh Adamson

*Julianne Grace Affanato

+**Hiba Ahmad

+**Rialee May Allen

+**Alyssa Carmelina Altieri

+**Bradari Philip Altman

+**Jany Marcella Anderson

Joshua Levin Anderson-Rahn

Cameron Phillip Andres

Peter A. Apessos

Nana Yaw Asare-Tandoh

+*Amanda Paige Attiya

**Linda Eveline Avila

**Matthew John Baldini

*Hanna Virginia Banner

*Katelyn Rose Barbuto

Emily Riley Batastini

Brody William Bauer

Madison Samantha Baughman

Robert John Becher, III

**Michael Sheridan Beebe

Alice Marie Belskis

**Garret Steven Benvenuti

*Elizabeth Marie Blankley

+**Logan Brian Bloomstead

*Courtney J. Linda Bodenschatz

Victoria Grace Bonino

+**Julia Summer Bornhardt

**Liam Michael John Bradley

+**Fiona Marie Breslin

+**Joshua Laurance Brook

*Brittany Lynn Broomell

**Abigail Madison Broschard

+**Kimberly Dawn Brown

*Macie Alexandra Buch

*Michael Carlo Calabro

+**Sara Nicole Caracciolo

+**Benjamin Donald Cardwell

Reed Michael Carlin

*Taylor Roberta Carr

*Kevin Paul Catanoso

+**Mia Rose Caucci

*Chanhi James Chheth

Andrew Chichester

Natalia Valentina Chin

Tasfia Mahbub Chowdhury

*Isabella Lorenza Citera

Justin Ronald Clark

*Ryan Joseph Clark

**Leigh Anne Clarke

*Madison Marie Compare

Timothie William Conover

Lawrence Thomas Cook, III

Cassidy Rayne Cooney

Caroline Nicole Corbo

Anna Caroline Cori

~Helene Lea Cornevin – Exchange Student from France

Steven Casey Eugene Costello

+**Sydney Elizabeth Couval

*Bryce Louis Cox

Lashawn Ray Crawford

Andrew Michael Cresci

+**Jack Michael Crowell

°**Rosalia Nicole Daddi

Thomas Jeffrey Dahl, Jr.

**Jacob Cooper Davis

Matteo Mercurio Dawkins

*Giovanina Rocchina DeLuca

+*Samantha Lynn DeRobertis

*Allison Nicole DiAngelis

°*Luke Alexander Zittle Dice

Joseph Noah Dilks

**Felicia Xi Dillon

Adelina Janise DiMaren

Annissa Jewell DiMaren

Elsie Ann DiPalma

**Julia Elena DiPietro

+**Andrew Michael Donoghue

*Killian John Dougherty

*Samantha Jane Dragon

*Delany Rae Driscoll

*Daniel Carson Dulin

Gabriel Stuart Eberly

Christopher Michael Edwards

+*Matthew Robert Edwards

Lauren Alexis Ehresmann

Jessica Robyn Eigenmann

Kayla Marie Eisenlohr

Shelby Lynn Errickson

Natalie Alexandra Esposito

+**Nicholl Carol Fenton

*Brianna Lynn Ferrara

Alexia Marie Filer

+**Sebastian Neil Fine

*Laura Anne Fithian

Abigail Flemming

*James Michael Flukey

+**Sadie Love Ford

°+**Austin Christopher Fox

*Ellie Marie Franckle

Dylan Russell Frasca

Jason Douglas Fulmer

Matthew James Fumo

+**Valerie Nicole Galderisi

**Sarah Elizabeth Gardner

+**Anthony James Garreffi, III

*Albert Caleb Garrett, IV

*Jacob Thomas Giblin

+**Isabella Sues Gilhooley

+**Shannon Michelle Gill

*Alexander Anthony Gorski

Blake Alexander Gorski

Donald Francis Gray

Natalie Grace Greene

John Carver Groves

Dominic Joseph Gullo

*Abigail Elizabeth Hackett

+**Jane Ellen Hadley

Andrew Joseph Haines

Kayla Marie Haley

*Brooke Meekings Handley

+**Julia Elizabeth Hansen

+**Jacey Quinn Hanson

Maxine Michaela Harkins

Bryce Gerald Haskins

**Anthony Roland Havens

*Dara Heritage Hennessy

**Thomas Henry, III

**Julia Anne Herrington

+**Keani Elizabeth Hindle

*Alexandria Rachael McDowell Hoffman

*Matthew William Holmes

Crystal Marie Holt

+**Samantha Erin Horowitz

°+**Paul Choi Howell

*Thomas Anthony Hulse

+**Madison Kylie Hunt

Michael Benjamin Hutchison

*John Louis Iaconelli

Andrew Ryan Iannace

°+**Janae Isaacs

**Ashley Elizabeth Jamison

Stephen William Jefferson

*Steven Lee Jernee

**William Mackin Trofa Johnson

Gregory H. Johnson, Jr.

*Miranda Marie Jones

*Megan Jessica Keenan

*Aliyah Theresa Kelly

*Anna Kathryn Kelly

Collin Brenn Kelly

+**Emma Wilson Kelly

Ryan Patrick Kelly

*Julia Ann Kennedy

Anthony John Kenny

Luciano Mario Keyes

+**Patrick Jamison Kistler

*Madison Lynn Kitchen

William Jacob Koeppel-Schmidt

Nathaniel John Kohler, Jr.

Mark Patrick Gruber Kolmer, Jr.

+**Sarah Frances Krajicek

+**Nicole Marie Kramer

**Dawson Robert Kuhn

Tylor Thomas Laine

Robert Elwood Lane

°+**Sean Michael Lane

Matthew Lashley, Jr.

*Alison Maria Lawn

+**Courtney Ann Leonard

+**Giuliana Leotta

Eric Joshua Levai

Brett Welsand Levering

Joshua Darrell Liesveld

Cade Harrison Louvin

Luciano Michael Lubrano

+**Sarah Grace Lucey

Georgia Jean Majka

*James Earl Mann, V

Alexandra Jeanne Martin

Hailey Nicole Martin

+**Madeleine Grace Martinelli

*Olivia Paige Martinelli

Sabbatino Bruce Marziano

*Sabrina Geneane Marziano

*Taylor Lynn Mason

Katharine Susan Matera

*Anthony Joseph Mavilla

°+**Elizabeth Lynn May

**Kaylin Marie McAndrews

Nathan Alexander McCallum

*Emily Catherine McCoy

*Holly Marie McCrosson

°+**Rylee Georgene McDonnell

**Victoria Brynne McHugh

Destiny Shy’on Krysten McKeiver

Victoria Rose McMaster

Liam Bryan McMurray

*Jacob Ray McNellis

Amanda Rae Meachon

*Danielle Nicole Menchen

+**Matthew Patrick Metzler

Kelsey Christine Meyer

Julia Grace Meyers

David Lawerence Millar

Jessica Lauren Leigh Miller

Clay Robert Mitman, II

°+**Madison Nicole Montanero

+**Evan Wiliam Monteith

+*Megan Iris Montemurro

°+**Liam Joseph Kronyak Mulhall

Ava Coryn Myers

Elizabeth Angelina Nealis

Valentina Maria Neely

Jared Collins Neill

Joseph Patrick Neiman

Christopher Vincent Ney

**Allison Nicole Novasitis

**Amanda Joan Nunan

*Nicole Suchi Nunan

Kelem  Nyarko

*Jenna Marie Oberg

**Abbygayle Rose O’Boyle

Amanda Rose O’Connor

*Kyle James O’Connor

**Ashley Taylor Ogurek

**Thomas Patrick Olandt

*Matthew Joseph Oleksiak

Jenna Lynn Oliver

Angela Nicole Onley

Kathryn Rose O’Rourke

Troy Scott Palmer

+**Alexis Marie Paone

+**Aleva Calla Parker

*Juana Joyce Parral

Alyssa Marie Pasciullo

Christian Jason Pates

**Mackenzie Riley Pearce

**Samantha Elizabeth Peaschek

**Celvin  Pelaez-Gonzalez

*Andrew Charles Pensa

°Alexander Joseph Perfetti

Michael Bauer Peter

+**Morgan Jennifer Pfau

*Jonathan Michael Phillips

°*Logan Jack Pierpoint

*Caroline Laura Pizzano

Skyler Dale Platt

+**Phoebe Morgan Prettyman

Ryan Matthew Prettyman

Sarah Cartney Prosser

°+**Devon Rose Punthrangkul

*Alexandria Kathryn Pursglove

Kiera Elizabeth Quade

*Olivia Ireland Quinn

Eduardo Jalil Quiroz-Mejia

*Devon Alyssa Raab

Georgie Marie Rauner

*Scott Kilian Redmond

+**Julie Anne Reeves

*Christopher Armand Ricchi

+**John Patrick Riordan

*McKenna Joy Robel

Shamus Ian Patrick Roberts-Campbell

*Christopher James Robertson

*Miriam Itzel Rosario-Vega

Matthew Christopher Ruff

° **Kyle Robert Rumaker

**Jordan Tyler Sabatino

+**Grace Anne Sacco

+**Jonathan Scott Salkeld

°*Colton Dayne Salomon-Lowden

*McKenna Lee Sartori

+**Michael Stephen Saul

*Emily Stephanie Scherer

+**Jared Michael Schiavone

+**Jason Christopher Schiavone

Lauren Haley Schmidt

Wolfe Ray Schwartz

Heather Marie Schweibinz

Kevin David Seelig

**Brooke Sarah Segich

**Nicole Raley Seither

Jadalyne Stevie Selgrade

+**Jasmine Santosh Sham

*Sarah Margaret Shannon

*Alexandra Marie Sharp

Jamison Kevin Shaw

**Alyssa Marie Shiffler

*Noah Clement Siciensky

+**Casey Elizabeth Sigmund

°**Jacob T. Simone

+**Jacob Thatcher Smith

*Brianna Kathleen Snyder

Lacey Irisa Stadler

Tabitha Leigh Stauffer

Grace Ann Steele

Ian Dunn Steele

**Meredith Jane Steele

*Britney Lee Stein

George William Swensen, Jr.

Antonio George Swift

*Torre Samantha Teise

**Andrew John Tomaino

Michael Anthony Torcasio

**Matthew Quentin Torrence

Brooke Ashley Tort

*Joseph Michael Tripoli

Natiya Quanisha Trzecki

Colton Daniel Ulmer

Haley Nicole Vitko

Nicole Anne Wagner

*Madeline Emma Leigh Walker Hughes

**Daniel Patrick Walsh, Jr.

+**Forest Yue-lin Wan

Angelea Nicole Wilcox

+**Nicholas Owen Williams

+**Meghan Barna Wilmott

Sean Mitchell Wilson

*Gianna Elizabeth Witasick

Seth Francis-Alexander Wood

*Rachel Elaine Wright

Samantha Jane Wright

+**Stellanie Anastasia Yiannos

Kuang Yao Young

+**Kasey Jean Yunghans

+**Taylor Michelle Zeides

Samuel Denis Zimmerman

+ National Honors Society

** Highest Honors

* Honors


~Exchange Student