Bouquets of tiger lilies, the class flower for the Northwestern Lehigh Class of 2011, began and ended Saturday's graduation ceremony at Stabler Arena.
On entering the arena, guests saw that lilies brightened the stage, complimenting the orange of the tigers on the backdrop. At the end of the ceremony, each former student received a flower to take home.
As part of her welcome, class president Jessica Dietrich thanked friends, faculty and family for their support during the school years. She said school was a steppingstone into the future and concluded, "Good luck and let the good times roll."
For Dennis Nemes, high school principal, this was a special class since it was his last. Both he and his assistant, Ken Fisher, are retiring.
Nemes said that in high school, students began to come of age. He compared it as a change from Milton Bradley to Milton Friedman.
Nemes said Davis Evans, who performed "Nocturne in E Flat Major" on a baby grand piano, was indicative of the quality of talent the class produced. He also introduced Erin Brennan as an "exceptionally find choral member. She was accompanied by Katharyn Banner on guitar.
Michael Hontz, class valedictorian, said they could not control the actions of others but that members of the class have the freedom of their own thoughts.
"I can choose the positives in my own life," he said. "I'll never be a championship golfer but I will not concern myself with that. I will do what I can do well. Some things you just have to accept as being out of your control."
Kaitlin Snyder introduced members of the National Honor Society and gave the college and course of study that each plans. Nemes said the Honor Society of America has recognized outstanding young people for 100 years.
The senior chorus sang "Corner of the Sky" under the directorship of Scott Brown.
Superintendent Mary Anne Wright has directed most of her adult life to Northwestern Lehigh School District, said Nemes.
Wright began by saying students should use their head for thoughts and their hearts for faith – and link the two together.
"As you close this chapter of your lives the future will not be straight. I suggest you live for today and maximize every opportunity," she said. "I can remember many of you walking into kindergarten. Today is the same because you don't know what to expect. I can't wait to hear how the class of 2011 will shape the world."
She said Nemes and Fisher have 60 years combined in education and the students are better for their efforts. She ended as she began, with a statement about linking thoughts and faith.
Nemes, who has 40 years in the field of education, said one question he is frequently asked is why the school board does what it does without pay.
"It is the deep desire to serve the students and community," he said before introducing school board president Greg Snyder.
Snyder said he considers it a privilege to provide remarks at graduation and finds himself with a similar message each year.
"It is the end of one phase but commencement is a beginning," he said. "Your contributions may or may not be spectacular on their own," he said but combined with others they are important. On behalf of the Northwestern Lehigh Board of Education, "Good luck."
"What is it that we do that embeds the belief that what we learn is important?" asked Nemes. "Learning creates a change in behavior. You are ready and capable to face the challenge."
Nemes read the names of the graduates and the honors they achieved. Diplomas were presented by Snyder. Wright shook hands and occasionally hugged the students.
When Nemes presented the Class of 2011 to the public, caps flew into the air.