Last evening, Jim Thorpe Area High School celebrated its 58th annual commencement ceremony in the JTHS gymnasium. One hundred and eighteen students received their diplomas.

The ceremony began with the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner," by graduating senior Michael Trainer.

Principal, Thomas Lesisko opened the ceremony with a few remarks.

He said, they (the graduating seniors) are the future leadership of America.

He added that the graduating seniors have worked very hard to get to this moment and they are on their 'victory lap.'

JTASD School Board President, Dr. Clement McGinley commented about graduation and that there is a certain nervousness, yet wonder about what the future will hold, about the next step.

Several graduating seniors spoke at the commencement.

Class of 2012 President, Benjamin Moore, referring to graduation day stated, "Our daydreams have become reality, and now we are wondering where all the time has gone. Looking back on freshman year, it is just crazy to think how different things used to be; how different we used to be."

He talked about a guest speaker that recently visited the school; Jeff Yalden of MTV's Made. Yalden had spoken about 'taking time to think' and that 'everything is going to be okay.'

"I believe that everything in our lives will be okay. I want all of you to leave your doubts behind as you walk out of this gymnasium and think to yourselves: 'Everything is going to be okay,'" he added.

Moore added, "Remember Class of 2012, that when we walk out of these doors for the last time together, everything is going to be okay."

Moore also spoke about accomplishments that had been made by members of the class of 2012. He also spoke of obstacles that the class had overcome.

Salutatorian, Michelle O'Toole stated, "As we go through life, one thing will not change, you will never be able to get a moment back. So make every moment count. You must be able to seize every second of every day, and let nothing hold you back. You must ignore whatever judgments may come upon you and realize that they are only words, and they don't define you."

"I hope you realize that you must move past the people holding you down, the people telling you that you mustn't or that you shouldn't. If you don't do this, you will not be able to seize those moments. We have amazing people in our class, and if they are too afraid to be themselves, then no one will ever realize how awesome they truly are," she said.

She added, "When Ben, Kayla, and I were working on our commencement speeches, we had all discussed students and pointed out what makes them unique. Between the three of us, we had a long list. This experience proved to me that everyone in our class is truly exceptional."

"I hope that each of you realize your value and importance in this world. Live your life to make you happy, not everyone else happy. I beg you to take a chance and put yourself out there. Don't live a life of never haves," added O'Toole.

Valedictorian, Kayla Susko talked about the current catchphrase, "You only live once."

She stated, "With each difficulty that comes our way, we have to pick ourselves up, look in the mirror, possibly exclaim how terrible we look from crying, tell ourselves that life moves on, and learn from our experiences. We must take lessons from our shortcomings and understand that they are a part of life. However, we can not be scared of our own failure either. We must set high expectations for ourselves and not be afraid that we will fall short of them."

Susko added, "With one life to live, I also challenge you to open your mind to the possibilities. Never judge a person, situation, or experience based on others' opinions. Enter this new chapter of your life with a fresh, unbiased mind, willing to try new things and meet new people at the turn of every page."

"Since we only live once, we must always have self confidence and keep a positive attitude as well. We can not allow ourselves to be unraveled by the day to day obstacles we will invariably encounter as we continue our paths to success. We ought to always keep the bigger picture in mind and not allow small fumbles to get in our way of achieving greatness," she said.

Moore, O'Toole, and Susko each gave special thanks to family, friends, peers, teachers, and administrators.

The mantle presentation and acceptance was conducted by Benjamin Moore, Class of 2012 President and Michael Kalage, Class of 2013 President.

Class of 2012 advisors, Jane Adams and Patricia Holmes announced the graduates. The diplomas were presented by Dr. Barbara Conway, Superintendent; Dr. Clement McGinley, School Board President; Thomas Lesisko, Principal; and Mark Rosenberger, Dean of Students.

After the diplomas were presented, Conway spoke to the graduating class.

She spoke about the "positive potential of any given moment' and how 'the smallest things do matter."

Conway referenced Benjamin Franklin, Rosa Parks, and Alex Scott (the inspiration for Alex's Lemonade Stand).

Conway stated that these people had an idea and that idea lead to making a difference. She added that one idea, if acted upon can change you and change others.

The Jim Thorpe Elite Choir performed "My Way Back Home" by Jay Althouse.

Class officers, President, Benjamin Moore; Vice President, Erin Bucci; Secretary, Mary Slack; and Treasurer, Kayla Susko performed the tassel ceremony.

Lesisko presented the class of 2012 as graduates of Jim Thorpe Area High School.

The ceremony concluded with the graduates and the audience singing the Jim Thorpe Alma Mater.

At the commencement ceremony the class of 1962 was recognized for celebrating its 50th class reunion this year.