The Pleasant Valley School District in Brodheadsville has been holding special events all school year in recognition of its 50th anniversary. The graduating class of 2011 became the 51st class to graduate from its hallowed halls and marks the beginning of the next 50 years. They follow in the accomplished footsteps of those who have gone before but they leave behind big shoes for their undergraduate classmates to fill.
There were 45 seniors in the first graduating class of 1961. Friday night there were 481 diplomas handed out to the Class of 2011. John Gress, PVHS principal, said during the commencement ceremony that 89 percent of the 2011 class are going on to secondary schools and six percent are going in to the military.
"You are an exceptional class of students who have accomplished a lot, making us PV proud," Dr. Douglas Arnold, PVSD superintendent said to the seniors. He quoted John F. Kennedy with "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource." And from Jawaharlal Nehru, "Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves."
He said that at the Monroe County Technical Institute graduation ceremony, PVHS senior Ellen Pieper stole a quote he planned to use but decided it was so good, he was still going to use it. It is from Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the Places You'll Go." "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go."
"Last week it started to get to me that this is the end. I'm in denial. This is that day I thought would never come" said James (J.D.) Patterson, class valedictorian, who said he has always wanted to be successful and earn money, have fun and happiness.
"What does a kid know about fun and happiness while juggling studying and school. Just ask my girlfriends. Oh wait. I never had any," to which his classmates and everyone laughed.
"PV High, we've come a long way from Polk, Chestnuthill, PVE and Eldred. It hasn't always been rainbows and butterflies. We've dealt with death, cancer, accidents and hard times." He added that he knows many of his classmates can't wait to get on with their lives but he warned, "We're going to miss it."
He concluded with telling his classmates that before they can think of going out into the world, they have the job of having an awesome summer first.
Brandyn Bok wore the honored mantle of the 2011 salutatorian. In his speech, Bok said that many of his happiest moments in his life happened in this school, from the football team winning the Old Oaken Bucket to the amazing prom night to many of the sports teams winning championships and an all-time high in PSSAs.
"It's a somewhat sad feeling, realizing I won't see my classmates in the hallways," he said.
He gave credit to his teachers, administration, the Tramontinas, friends, parents and classmates for "four incredible years of high school.
He said, "I tended to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. I know I just added all 500 of you to my wolf pack. We 500 wolves will be going out into the world."
His parting advice was from his own personal doctrine, "Be true to yourself and give it your best effort," and instead of saying "Good-bye" he wanted to leave them with, "See you later."
Margaret Patterson, Senior Class president said, "What a privilege it is to stand in front of you as your class president." She thanked Mr. and Mrs. Mark Tramontina, the 2011 Senior Class advisers "who went above and beyond the call of duty," Mr. Gress and teachers and staff "who helped to make us stand out and to the past classes who helped make us what we are today." She and the other Senior Class officers, presented a $3,000 gift to the incoming sophomore class and two wooden bear cubs to flank the large wooden bear that graces the front of PVHS.
Over 100 years ago, when Fairview Academy opened in 1881, a bell hung in the steeple which rang twice a day, to begin and end the school day. The ringing of that same bell has now become a time-honored tradition as each year, the senior class officers ring the bell at graduation, to signify, the end of their high school days. This year, the bell was rung by the 2011 Senior Class officers, Margaret Patterson, president, Kayla Dorney, vice president, Felicia Domenici, secretary, and Jeremy Curatola, treasurer.
"We're here tonight to recognize your accomplishments and celebrate what is yet to come. As we look around, we are in need of good leaders and we look to you. We are confident you'll live up to the expectations we have of you," said Gress.