Wyalusing Seniors Receive Diplomas at Annual Commencement
One hundred Wyalusing Valley High School seniors received diplomas during commencement rites held Wednesday evening, June 15, in the school’s Layman Gymnasium.
The ceremony opened with seniors, faculty and board members filing into the filled to capacity gymnasium while the school band played “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Senior Eagle Scouts Dana Black, Bryan Carr, Ryan Girven, Nathaniel Hemenway and Max Stefan Poost led the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem.
In his invocation, Pastor David Faulkner of Laceyville’s Braintrim Baptist Church said: “It is our prayer that these graduates would use their gifts, talents and abilities that you have given to them, to influence people for the good and that they would strive to make a difference wherever their paths may lead.”
Class of 2011 Vice President Jacob Anthony Latini welcomed everyone to the ceremony. He extended thanks to parents on behalf of his classmates. “I would like to thank you for helping us succeed with school, extracurricular activities, friendships and much more,” Latini said. “From the beginning, you dressed and fed us every morning before elementary school and struggled to wake us up every morning before high school.”
Latini continued, saying that he and his classmates were now celebrating their accomplishments and looking forward to the future. He told parents that he understood that it would be difficult to let their graduate leave home to enter the workforce, join the military or go to college. “We are not only celebrating our success,” Latini said, “we are also celebrating your success in raising well-rounded young adults. So thanks for all of you sitting here today; you should know that because of you we are prepared to catch everything that the real world throws at us, and we are strong and able to push through any barriers that get in our way.”
In conclusion, Latini congratulated his classmates. “We all worked hard and deserve to be sitting here celebrating this moment with all of our friends, family and teachers.” He also wished fellow graduates good luck in their future endeavors. “As we anxiously wait to hold our diplomas, we are having moments of nostalgia, but we need to remember that today is a day of celebration because we are all opening a new chapter in our books of life.”
Following Latini’s remarks, the Senior Choral Ensemble sang “Time of Your Life,” which was followed by Early Morning Jazz singing “I’m Glad There is You.”
Class of 2011 Valedictorian Max Stefan Poost thanked everyone for joining him and his classmates in their celebration. “I’ll try to inspire you all in a concise and impossibly short time frame, but if this speech does crash, please know there are self-eject buttons located on the underside of your chairs. So please don’t pull out your iPad and play Angry Birds just yet.”
To his classmates, Poost said: We made it. High school is out the window and a higher school—life, that is—is staring right at us.
“High school has been quite a ride, let me tell you,” Poost continued. “I knew coming to Wyalusing was a good choice, though, when in the midst of January I came trudging to school in snow shoes and in April when I borrowed by grandpa’s lifeboat to paddle to class. You can always tell you’re in Wyalusing when at any given month of the year there is a bridge out within a 10-mile radius of the school. But that’s where we live and though many of us don’t realize it or don’t want to realize it, we come from this land and we couldn’t live without it.
“We are all vessels of inspiration,” Poost said. “And we must look to ourselves and each other for the answers in life. We are young American adults. Though many of us don’t realize it, that comes with a couple perks. First of all, we have access to the best university system in the world; second, we can choose almost any cobweb-filled washed out path we choose (we have the ability to choose). And third, if you get caught in downtown Bangalore or Madrid, we probably won’t need a translator (though you might in downtown N’Albany).
“In this powerhouse of a country,” Poost continued after laughter and applause following his N’Albany joke, “we are offered the ability to shape our own lives. Very few 17-19-year-olds across the globe live on such a high balcony of opportunity. After 12 years of being taught how to survive on this crazy planet, it’s time for us to stand up and say: ‘you know what?’ I’m going to be the next Chuck Norris.’ Use your resources, find your niche to help out and keep your eyes open.”
To his teachers who were seated just in front of him, Poost said, “A huge shout goes out to the ladies and gentlemen in the front row. I guess in the end you did help out a bit and for that we are very grateful. And to our parents out there, aside from birthing us, you showed us the ropes and hanging there blindly would be a tough fate, so kudos to you. We love you.”
In conclusion, Poost said he would offer two more thoughts at the risk of being targeted with rotten projectiles. “Life is not about what you know already. Life is about taking what you know and applying it, creating something, finding something new, giving it away, passing it on. Do work, guys, and have fun.”
Following the Senior Spotlight, where the high school band performed “On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss,” Class of 2011 Salutatorian Abby Marie Fogel told families, friends, staff and administration: “If it were not for your help and support, we would not be here standing before you ready to begin the next phase of our lives.”
Fogel said that it wasn’t so long ago that she and her classmates were choosing lunch boxes and backpacks in preparation for their first day of kindergarten. “Now, after many tests, research papers and projects, we are here to celebrate our hard work and dedication. We will choose a path to what we hope will lead to a long and successful life. At this point we don’t know where that path will take us, however, we know that we will be prepared. We have learned valuable lessons at WVHS that will help guide us along the way.”
Fogel went on to say that those lessons included: learning how to be friends and learning sportsmanship. “But possibly the most valuable thing we have learned during our high school careers is perseverance. Whether it was finally being able to get across the monkey bars, writing the perfect essay or delivering that 20-minute persuasive speech, we know that reaching our goals is possible, although not always easy.”
Quoting Thomas Edison, Fogel said: “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” She told her classmates: “We now understand that what the future holds is not nearly as important as the journey to our futures. Whether you are going to be a lawyer, a mechanic, a waitress or an Olympic athlete, the willingness to persevere will help you overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.”
In conclusion, Fogel urged her classmates to commit to their desired careers, give themselves a chance to be successful and realize that hard work always pays off.
Following Fogel’s remarks, District Superintendent Ray Fleming introduced the recipients of the Peoples State Bank Awards, the top 10 students in the class. He also introduced the top student in each of the school’s four curriculums.
The top 10 students include: (beginning with number 10) Randy Herman, Bryan Carr, Paige Millard, Ashley Long, Kelby O’Neil, Jordan Knapp, Daniel Shumway, Stephan Tewksbury, Abby Fogel and Max Stefan Poost.
Top students in their curriculum included: Max Stefan Poost, General; Abby Fogel, Business; Stephan Tewksbury, Academic, and Samantha Wittig, Vocational-Technical.
Fleming also recognized National Honor Society members including: Caitlyn Doerner, Abby Fogel, Paul Hugo, Brianna Jennings, Paige Millard, Kelby O’Neil, Max Stefan Poost, Daniel Shumway and Stephan Tewksbury.
Fleming summed up his remarks by introducing members of the Class of 2011 who earned District Scholar status. “They have performed very well in the PSSA testing program,” Fleming said. They did an outstanding job in all areas of this testing. The District Scholars included: Bryan Carr, Abby Fogel, Paul Hugo and Daniel Shumway.
Following the presentation of awards, High School Principal Gary Otis certified that the Class of 2011 had met the requirements for graduation, and Deborah Stethers, President of the Wyalusing Area School Board, accepted the class.
As Otis read each graduate’s name and they walked across the gymnasium at the front of the audience to receive their diplomas, he offered a brief description of the graduate’s future plans.
In his farewell address, Class of 2011 President Troy Scott Newhart said he and his classmates had finally arrived at their long-awaited graduation. “Where we go from here is totally up to us,” Newhart said, “but never again will so many doors be open for our futures. Never again will we have to walk these halls, learn in these classrooms or be told where to park on this campus.”
Newhart offered “good luck” to his classmates who have opted to join the military, those going to college and those joining the workforce.
“This is a time that we should all cherish,” Newhart said. “We have been through good and bad times together, but it is the good memories that should be most important to us as we sit in this school for the last time.” He asked his classmates to put petty differences aside and enjoy the moment.
In conclusion, Newhart said, “We have been told for several years that these years are going to be the best years of our lives, and many of us find this hard to believe, including me. So let’s prove these people wrong. Let us leave what is familiar behind and go into the unknown. Let’s do work. For we are the Wyalusing Class of 2011.”
The ceremony closed with a benediction by Pastor Jira Albers of Towanda’s Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. During his remarks, Pastor Albers asked the graduates to look at their hearts: “May the Lord bless these hearts that strive to love more than they have been loved.”
The graduates, faculty and board members proceeded out of the gymnasium as the school band played “Sine Nomine.”