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Pirates manager speaks of pride in Franklin Regional

| Thursday, June 5, 2014, 11:03 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Members of the senior class stand while honored by Pirates manager Clint Hurdle during the Franklin Regional senior class baccalaureate service on Thursday, June 5, 2014, at the high school's auditorium.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle motions to the crowd, 'You're in His hands,' during the Franklin Regional senior class baccalaureate service on Thursday, June 5, 2014, in the high school's auditorium.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle speaks during the Franklin Regional senior class baccalaureate service on Thursday, June 5, 2014 at the high school's auditorium.

In what he called a “love letter” to Franklin Regional seniors, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle expressed pride for them and how they responded to a knife attack at their school.

“I'm so proud of every person in here, for every person that took a moment of action, that stepped forward, that made a difference, that sacrificed,” Hurdle said during a nondenominational baccalaureate service Thursday evening. “God's got this today, just as he did on April 9th.”

Hurdle's remarks, met with a standing ovation from about 500 seniors and their families in the high school auditorium, came on the eve of graduation. The Class of 2014 is set to don their caps and gowns on Friday to mark a celebratory end to an ordinary year that turned tumultuous in the spring. Diplomas will be presented to 306 students.

On April 9, sophomore Alex Hribal, 16, allegedly brought two 8-inch knives to the high school and began slashing wildly at classmates, injuring 20 students and a security guard. Classes at the school were canceled for a week after the attack in a first-floor hallway just after 7 a.m.

“I'm so proud, again, of the way we stood up,” Hurdle said. “It was you being strong, it was your kids being strong.”

“It's going to make a difference in everything you do for the rest of your life,” he said.

The student-driven service featured prayer, readings and musical performances from seniors.

Brad Henderson, director of Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, said high school graduations are taking place nationwide, but “none more significant than what's happening here.”

“God has been very much in the midst of what's been going on,” said Henderson, who serves as chaplain with the Pirates.

Senior Alex Pasculle wants to remember his relationships with teachers and friends.

“There's tons of positive stuff that happened this year,” Pasculle told the Tribune-Review last week.

Pasculle is an emergency medical technician who helped several injured students in the minutes after the attack. He hopes to attend nursing school in the fall.

“It's had a huge impact on me,” he said. “It just kind of put everything into perspective for me as far as ... none of us are invincible.”

Hurdle was asked to speak during Franklin Regional's baccalaureate by two Murrysville youth pastors. The Pittsburgh Pirates have responded following the attack by honoring first responders and the organization's charity has raised thousands of dollars to donate to a fund for victims and their families.

Hurdle used baseball metaphors and a tale from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” to elicit laughs and audience participation during his remarks. He encouraged seniors to engage in acts of kindness, make good choices and to take care of themselves.

“I'm here tonight, because you are important, you're very important,” Hurdle said.

“I can't wait to see the incredible things you do,” he said. “I can't wait to watch the lives you touch.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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