"Let's embrace this moment," charged Jake Brown, Class President of the Class of 2013, Wallenpaupack Area High School. He stood in his purple gown and cap before the assembly of peers, dressed in purple or white, their school colors. It was June 14, 2013, a little past 7 p.m.
It was the moment this class, like the multiple generations before them, has waited, culminating the amazing years from kindergarten through the end of 12th grade.
We have heard speeches of a like vein before, and will again. Every year, however, the words are gathered from the hearts of speakers from yet another graduating class. Each year those words are new and fresh and emblazoned with meaning. This was their day. This was the Class of 2013 from Wallenpaupack and it was their moment to celebrate.
This year there were 302 of them. Not so very small and yet not a very large class where it is hard to know one another. As the speakers shared that evening in the gymnasium, they were about to break forth into a new world, and wanted to hold tight their friends and familiar surroundings.
Brown gave thanks to the School Board, the Administration, to the teachers who he described as "caring, selfless individuals" and to their parents, guardians and families.
He said that a few short years before they began as timid freshmen, but gradually they saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The time seemed to speed as they went from the class trip last November to the prom in May. He reminded that their class has a special bond they should never lose. No matter what lays ahead and the direction each takes, may each of then remember where they came from.
Corey Schmalzle, Valedictorian, made the class and the crowds in the bleachers laugh as he suggested that hopefully their time at Wallenpaupack would NOT be the "best years of their lives." He explained that they need to look forward and not be consumed with the past. He urged that their future is not lived in the shadow of their "glory days."
Schmalzle added, however, that he loves his time at Wallenpaupack which will remain special in his memory. "At the end of the day all we have is our memories," he said. "Thank you for shaping me in what I am today. I couldn't ask for a better class to be a part of."
Salutatorian Lindsey Crean said that their high school days were ones of comfort, full of bits and pieces that were familiar. Now they go out to an uncertain world. She said they cannot be afraid to take chances No dream is too big. If you don't take chances it is sure your dream will not work.
Our lives on our tombstone will be etched with he year we were born and the year we die. Between them, she said, is a dash. It is that dash that matters. How we make up our days is what counts and will give someone someday something to say on our behalf.
Page 2 of 2 - She urged her classmates not to let graduation be their top achievement, but allow what they do in life to make graduation seem dull in comparison.
School board members gave out the diplomas. There was no greater ovation, no greater volume of applause and cheer than when two special needs students walked across the stage, first Christopher Ross and then Michael Ross- twin brothers. Christopher paused, looked at his classmates and gave a "thumbs up." The assembly roared in appreciation and congratulation.
While decorum and dignity were the order of the evening, at least one student was seen skipping high in the air once he left the stage, his diploma in hand. He perhaps exhibited what many were feeling.
Kaitlin Kresse led the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. Chiara Marone led the Alma Mater.
Superintendent Michael R. Silsby presented the Academic Honors: Valedictorian, Corey Schmalzle; Salutatorian, Lindsey Crean; English, Science and Mathematics, Corey Schmalzle; Social Studies, Lindsey Crean; Foreign Language, Hannah Stack; Art, Katelyn Schaefer; Building Trades, Joseph Irving; Communications, Luke Bond; Allied Health, Lauren Ingulli; Food Service, Alena Lohr- Sadowniczak; Music,Kaitlin Kresse; Automotive Technology, Devin DeFazio and BCIT, Devin Landolfi.
Rev. Gregg Schafer, Newfoundland Moravian Church led the opening and closing prayer. Upon the last "Amen", the Class of 2013 had their signal, and the graduation caps were flung into high in the air. It was a final shout of triumph for their days at Wallenpaupack, and announcement that their new chapters were just beginning.