May 13, 2009

Gettysburg Player Picks Up Early Degree

from press releases

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - Sara Tolner's (Pasadena, Md./Severn School) memory of her graduation from Gettysburg College will be unlike anyone else's this spring as she was treated to her very own Commencement ceremony inside Schmucker Hall's Luella Musselman Paul Recital Hall Tuesday afternoon. Tolner will miss this Sunday's Commencement for the rest of the Class of 2009 as she will join her women's lacrosse teammates at the NCAA Division III Tournament Championships in Salem, Va.

An early graduation ceremony isn't unprecedented in the annals of Gettysburg, and it happened to the women's lacrosse team as recently as 2007 when five Bullets were handed their degrees before playing in the national semifinals. Tuesday's event was perhaps the most unique, however, as all eyes and speeches were directed solely at Tolner.

The program went in the usual order with the opening processional and invocation, followed by the greeting by College President Janet Morgan Riggs. Both Riggs and interim provost James White acknowledged the unique circumstances of the event, as did Professor Timothy Shannon, who was selected as guest speaker and gave an entertaining and enlightening speech, citing lessons from Saturday Night Live and 20th century French writer Marcel Proust.

The climax of the event came when Tolner received her B.S. in health sciences from Riggs, leading to an ovation from all those in attendance, including all of the graduate's lacrosse teammates. Following the singing of the alma mater and the benediction, the administration, faculty, and new graduate filed out of the hall in the recessional, putting a close to the 25-minute ceremony.

With degree in hand, Tolner will lead the Bullets to the national semifinals this Saturday, May 16, against Salisbury University. Game time is set for 5 p.m. at Roanoke College's Donald J. Kerr Stadium in Salem, Va. The winner will advance to the national championship slated for 3 p.m. on Sunday.

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