On Thursday evening, Jim Thorpe Area High School celebrated its 59th annual commencement ceremony in the JTHS gymnasium. There were 116 graduates.

The ceremony began with the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner," by the JTAHS Choir.

Principal Thomas Lesisko encouraged the graduates to "continue to be a sponge for knowledge."

He added, "Your future starts today. Congratulations and good luck!"

Michael Kalage, president of the Class of 2013, began the student speeches.

He stated, "We all had our good days and bad days, but hopefully high school as a whole can be looked back on as the best days of our lives, while at the same time, being the days where we learned who we really are."

"Some of us already know what we are passionate about and our plans for the fall are already made, and others are still exploring their options," he said. "We are a very diverse class, with a wide array of interests and talents, and we have the potential to impact the world from every possible aspect."

Kalage reminisced about favorite memories and he also praised his classmates for all their many achievements. He stated, "The lessons taught to us by our teachers, parents and other mentors have laid the groundwork in preparing us for the rest of our lives."

The next to speak was class Salutatorian Rebecca Osborne.

"We are excited to graduate, to begin our futures, and to move out into the world. We are terrified to start our lives, independent of these wonderful teachers and loving parents seated before us. And we again feel that slight anxiety that the days of recess and snack time have been replaced with responsibilities," stated Osborne.

She continued, "Then we contemplated; Where can I go? Anywhere. What can I do? Anything. We're seniors, we're on top and we know, finally, what to do. Our futures are so bright, we need to wear shades."

Osborne told the gathering, "Parents and teachers have been the guiding stars through the darkness and uncertainty of high school, and of life. They have given us the encouragement and motivation necessary to succeed."

Valedictorian Tai Xi Gentile commented about starting high school and stated, "We were terrified, and we were unsure."

"In the past four years, we've changed," she said. "We will continue to change, especially as we begin to seek meaning in our lives."

She added, "What I mean is to find your purpose in life, something that inherently gives your life meaning, whatever it is."

"I've noticed that once I find something that gives me a sense of purpose, there is no trial too trying. For me, it's learning new things that build my understanding of the world around me. I seek understanding. But everyone is different."

Gentile challenged, "So, who do you want to be? Maybe you can't answer that now. Maybe you can. But as we stand together now on the threshold of who we might be, I wish each and every one of you the courage to fearlessly pursue your dreams."

As a special surprise, the Class of 2013 presented Jane Halenar, school nurse, and Patricia Holmes, German teacher, with gifts. Both Halenar and Holmes are retiring.

In addition, the class presented James Hauze, Computer Science Teacher, with a gift and thanked him. He also served as a senior class advisor. Hauze is also retiring.

The class also presented Gregory Strubinger, business teacher, with a gift. He also served as a senior class advisor.

The mantle presentation and acceptance was conducted by Michael Kalage, president of the Class of 2013 and Ryan Saunders, president of the Class of 2014.

Class of 2013 advisors, Hauze and Strubinger 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

Conway told a story about John Roebling and his design for the Brooklyn Bridge. She spoke about his obstacles and dreams.

She commented that, dreams that seem impossible can come true with determination.

"Remember to believe in yourself and your dreams," she stated.

The JTHS Choir with guest conductor Jennifer Strauss and pianist Alex Haggerty performed, "You Are the Light."

The class of 2013 moved their tassels over and Lesisko presented the class of 2013 as graduates of Jim Thorpe Area High School.

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