The chances of finding a good, honest mechanic when your car breaks down, a haircut that 's just your style, or an expert plumber when your two-year-old stuffs a teddy bear down the toilet got much better on Wednesday as the Carbon Career and Technical Institute launched its latest class of graduating seniors into the world.

The Class of 2010, 75 strong, entered the auditorium of Jim Thorpe Area High School for their graduation ceremony to the applause and cheers of hundreds of family members and friends. As the audience filled the seats, a slide show of the students, including many of their baby pictures, bloomed on a large screen on the stage, accomapnied by Green Day's "Time of Your Life."

It was a close-knit class, the "biggest Brady Bunch in history," as class president Shealyn Burkholder put it.

The journey to commencement wasn't always easy, but the graduates will carry into their futures not only solid skills, but memories of warmth, fun and camaraderie.

Valedictorian David Pelcheck recalled the words of Helen Keller as he spoke to his class.

"Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember: no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost," he quoted.

Pelcheck reminded his classmates that failure is an experience familiar to all; but that one has the choice to use that failure as steps up, or as steps down.

"It is through our failures that we learn and become successful," he said.

Pelcheck shared his own experience.

"I remember my first test in carpentry class. I had the simple task of adding and subtracting. I completed the problem by basic math, which is done in values of 10. However, I was supposed to have done the problems in feet and inches, which are in values of 12," he said.

"That simple mistake cost me my "A" in shop class for that quarter. needless to say, I never made that mistake again," Pelcheck said.

He encouraged the Class of 2010 to continue on their individual courses.

"The Class of 2010 you see before you chose the path less traveled. Unlike many high school students, we had an idea of what we wanted for our future," he said. "However, this choice did not come without obstacles. There were those who believed we could not know what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives at such a young age," Pelcheck said. "There were those who tried to persuade academically strong students not to attend CCTI because they do not realize that CCTI is more than just a technical school."

"But there were those who supported the students' choice, he said.

"This class is grateful that our parents stood by our decision to attend CCTI. They allowed us to follow our dreams," he said.

Not that that decision came easy, said Salutatorian Connie Palmer.

"For many of us, attending CCTI was probably one of the most difficult decisions we have made to this point in our lives. The thought of leaving our friends at our home schools to come to a new one where we barely knew anyone, was scary. We had no idea what was in store for us," she said.

But though difficult, the decision was the right one.

"Carbon Career & Technical Institute allows students throughout Carbon County to come and experience learning in a different way. During the course of our two or three years here, we learned so many different things. We met new people from all over the county, gained knowledge of a trade, and have grown - not only in our technical areas, but together as a class," Palmer said.

Burkholder urged her classmates to always remember CCTI.

"In kindergarten, we started out by knowing only our names and the yummy taste of play dough. As we progressed, we stretched our imaginations and put in a request for more knowledge," she said.

Burkholder quoted psychologist B.F. Skinner: "Education is what survives when what has been learned is forgotten."

"Of course we can't remember how we learned to read," she said. "but we sure do know how to read."

She encouraged the class to "Look forward to where you are going, but don't forget where you came from and what you were taught. CCTI helped establish the future careers we aspire to. Without the school's assistance, possibly only half of us would be here tonight," she said.

Members of the school's Joint Operating Committee attended the ceremonies, with Chairman Anthony DeMarco and Vice Chairman Carl Bieling presenting diplomas; Director David Reinbold and Principal Brent Borzak greeted the audience and presented the speakers.