Brandywine graduates 82

Published 3:11 pm Monday, June 5, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - It began at Brandywine.
John Bundy's career with the National Park Service has taken him all over the country. He has been a tour guide at Alcatraz, watched over the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and has stood where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
But Sunday, he had come full circle and was back where it all began - in Brandywine High School's gymnasium.
The 1966 Bobcat graduate has since moved on to become the superintendent of Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama. Bundy addressed the crowd in full uniform. He said he has been able to reach where he is at now by making small steps forward everyday.
Bundy said he was able to follow his dreams despite having to work through some added obstacles as a teen in Niles. He admitted he was an average student and had not thought about college until one of his teachers at Brandywine made the suggestion.
His parents divorced when he was still in school, and his father had aspirations for his son to follow him into electronics. But Bundy said he did not have the same passion for the business as his father did.
He continued by delivering advice he has found useful over the last 40 years since becoming an alumni of Brandywine High School. It was important for the young graduates to remain open-minded and tolerant, Bundy said.
Bundy concluded by telling the graduates it was okay to dream of leaving a small town for the big city and different opportunities. But, achieving any goals would require some work and progress everyday.
Bundy was followed on stage by the school's top achievers.
Salutatorian Katie Leigh Elder gave an emotional message to each of the upcoming Brandywine classes. She encouraged freshmen and sophomores to start growing and achieving now. To the juniors, she suggested planning for life after high school as soon as possible.
Valedictorian Matthew Wieger thanked his family as well as the teachers and faculty who supported him through his high school career. He also reminded his fellow classmates how close many of them had become in the last four years.
Class President Kelli Lee Zache made the commencement official by leading her fellow grads in the turning of the tassels, and 82 more Bobcats joined the club of Brandywine High School alumni.