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Baldwin's Class of 2013 ready to go far

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 7:07 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record
Distinguished graduate Daniel McTiernan gives a speech reminiscing about years past during Baldwin High School's annual commencement ceremony Friday, June 7, 2013 at Baldwin Stadium.
Seniors Thomas Grindel and Danielle Jackson share a laugh prior to receiving their diplomas during Baldwin High School's annual commencement ceremony.
Senior Thomas Grindel kills some time waiting to receive his diploma during Baldwin's commencement ceremony.
Senior Eve Jolo struts by friends and family while receiving her diploma during Baldwin High School's annual commencement ceremony at Baldwin Stadium.
Senior Jamal Habboushi points to friends and family while making his way to receive his diploma.
Senior Amber Pearsol makes a heart shape with her hands while spotting friends and family in the stands during Baldwin High School's annual commencement ceremony.
Senior Chelsea O'Neill (far right) turns her tassel during Baldwin High School's commencement ceremony at Baldwin Stadium.
New graduates toss their caps in the air as Baldwin High School's annual commencement ceremony draws to a close.
Seniors leave Baldwin Stadium for the last time as students after Baldwin High School's annual commencement ceremony Friday, June 7, 2013.

“Far, way far,” is where Baldwin school board student representative Jackie Sirc expects the class of 2013 to go beyond high school.

The class of 351 graduated last Thursday with sights set on bigger goals. The group has many individuals going to schools such as MIT, George Mason, Penn, Georgetown and Northwestern.

“There are so many kids that knew what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go so early,” Sirc, 18, said. “They got there. They are going to do so well.”

Among them is student council president Fitz Doyle, 17. He will study genetics at George Mason on scholarship. At Baldwin he played volleyball and soccer for four years. He spoke at graduation about finding your peak. Sirc will attend the University of Richmond for international studies.

The competitive class was able to drop their differences and band together when hardship struck art teacher, Sarah McGrath.

“We are all diverse,” Doyle said, “but we all just sort of mesh together.”

Lili McGrath, 4-year-old daughter of McGrath, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when the students were in their sophomore year. They were compelled to help a teacher that did so much for the students of Baldwin High School said senior class president Pat Sites.

Together they raised money to defer Lili's medical costs. They organized pottery and bracelet sales as well as a teacher talent show in November. Pop can tabs were donated to the Ronald McDonald House and donators were asked to say a prayer on behalf of Lili.

“She was a lot of people's favorite,” said Sites who is now enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. “She was a great teacher. If you needed someone to talk to everybody would always go to Ms. McGrath. She was just so caring.”

Like McGrath, Sites, 18, played an important part bringing the Highlanders together as the coveted mascot at basketball and football games. His enthusiasm help drive his classmates forward and away from senioritis to make their last year memorable.

One of their best memories is physics taught by Baldwin legend, Mr. Spahr.

“There are just certain classes where everything clicks, Sirc said,” and classes that you are never going to forget. This one was physics, which is funny because that's the absolute worst class ever.”

A teacher at the high school for just over 50 years, Spahr's legacy is indescribable, but they all remember him. That is the type of mark the class of 2013 wants to leave on their high school walls.

“I'm going to miss being known around the school,” Sirc said. “It's going to be weird to start all over again and re-establish ourselves.”

Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

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