By Katie Collins News Eagle Reporter
WESTFALL TWP. - After 13 years of assigned reading, writing and arithmetic assignments, the class of 2013 at Delaware Valley High School walked across the stage Saturday morning, finishing one huge chapter of their lives and about to start another. Initially their commencement was set for Friday evening, but it was delayed because of the weather. Superintendent John Bell, spoke of the weather in his speech, talking of when he took the position last summer, he was warned of having to decide when to cancel school in the winter, but he wasn’t prepared for the hurricanes that forced him to cancel classes for a week in October. Looking at what was happening in the world when the graduates started kindergarten in 2000, Bell said Bill Clinton was finishing his eighth year as president and George W. Bush was starting his presidency, gas was just $1.26 a gallon and soldiers weren’t in either Iraq or Afghanistan. He called those years the "the good old days."
When the students started school, it was a time when the parents were sending their children off into the world, sharing them with others. As the students made the transitions through their school years, Bell said each transition brought excitement for the students and nervousness for the parents. But Saturday, was the start of a very big transition for the students and he offered three pieces of advice. Firstly, he said, they should dream big dreams about everything they wanted to accomplish in their lives, secondly develop a plan to turn the dreams into goals and lastly work as hard as they could to achieve the goals and never ever listen to any naysayers. He concluded his speech, thanking the students for making the year one of the best in the school’s history.
The bleachers were filled with proud parents and family Saturday, who erupted with cheers, claps and whistles when Principal Ron Collins announced that 24 of the students have chosen to serve their country; 13 in the Navy, three in the Air Force, two with the National Guard and one in the Army. Other students have been accepted to colleges that include: Bucknell, John Hopkins, Yale, Dartmouth College, Penn State, University of Virginia and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to name a few. Athletic accomplishments include many new records with several sports at the school, and many of the students are moving on to play in college. But looking beyond the typical high school experiences, Collins acknowledged how the students responded during tragedies as the class raised money, sent cards of sympathy and volunteered to help when needed. Collins ended his speech by telling the students that they have won and now they must go forward to win more.
Senior class president Katherine Krause thanked everyone who has helped the students get to this point in their lives. Because of the support from teachers, friends and family, Krause said with their unwavering support and encouragement, the students are finally able to say they have succeeded and are graduates of Delaware Valley High School.
Krause quoted Walk Disney, ‘All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.’ She said that this was a time to keep moving forward as new doors will open and they should "follow the path to our aspirations, even though that path is sometimes unclear and almost always challenging." As a class, she said, they gave every "endeavor its all, pushing for that next goal, taking charge as leaders and becoming the class to never be forgotten."
Valedictorian, Annmarie Mullen recognized the many trials and tribulations the students dealt with through years, as well as the celebrations and triumphs that have made them who they are today. Through the lessons, she said the students learned about integrity, hard work and dedication.
As the students embark on their futures, Mullen said the students should evaluate the people they have become, consider the people they have met and routines they had that are now behind them. But the lessons they learned, she said, will stay with them, along with the values that helped the students get to this point. She added that, "The modern world doesn’t share the values we do."
Salutatorian Alexander Testino called the class of 2013, "the most motivated and driven class to leave Delaware Valley." One piece of advice he gave the class was to follow their passion, despite their worries and concerns. With everything that the students have learned at the school, he said, without the students’ experiences, "success simply isn’t possible." By following one’s own passion, Testino said, that it is one of the only ways to be happy and successful. Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, Testino said, ‘Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all of your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, and faithful and you will accomplish your objective. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’
Student Council President, Dylan Brown said aside from the students’ many academic and athletic achievements, the one that brings him the most pride is how much the class has given back to the community by raising 10s of thousands of dollars for charities and organizations. By helping others, he said the students have demonstrated great compassion and as one of his elementary school teachers told him, ‘all of the goodness you release into the world will eventually come back to you.’ With that, he said the class as a whole has, "exceeded expectations over and over again. Success is what we do. But, our duty has only just begun."
The country, Brown said, has been in conflict for a majority of the students’ lives. As a driving force, the class, he said, "Must stitch the fibers of strength, compassion and compromise back into the American way." With many issues that lie ahead, he said the students have the ability to produce the solutions. He quoted Robert Kennedy, ‘few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.’ Rather than living for what was, Brown said people should live for what can be. He concluded that, "we must go onward in the direction of our dreams and live the lives that we have always imagined. The world is ours for the taking."