143 NL graduates are told: 'This is your life ...'
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Members of the Northern Lehigh High School graduation Class of 2012 celebrate after commencement exercises Friday.
The pen is now in their hands.
Exactly what tales their stories will tell will depend on how they apply the life lessons they were taught.
Indeed, the time for the 143 members of the Northern Lehigh High School graduation Class of 2012 to turn the page has arrived.
Amid heavy rains, the 122nd annual commencement exercises were held inside the high school gymnasium Friday evening.
The Northern Lehigh Concert Band, led by band director David Carroll, performed the processional march, followed by a rendition of the national anthem by senior choir members.
Commencement exercises got under way with a welcome from high school Principal Robert Vlasaty.
As part of his address, Vlasaty focused on the word commencement, and what exactly it means.
Vlasaty said that while graduation signifies the end of their high school careers, it also marks the start of the next phase of their lives.
The years of formal education the students received were meant to prepare them for the beginning of their new lives, he said.
Vlasaty then encouraged the students to take the knowledge they have learned and use it to begin to make a new life and meet new challenges.
Class Salutatorian/President Kirsten Leskowich integrated the hit television show "This is Your Life" into her speech.
Leskowich said the series that came to an end about 60 years ago was "a show that provided insight into personal actions and family life."
"Well, my fellow graduates ... hit the lights and cue the camera. This is Kirsten Leskowich coming to you live from Slatington, Pennsylvania and today's episode features the story created by the class of 2012. This is our life together, collective, compiled by all 143 of us graduating today."
Leskowich said the class created a book together, and that "our story is about to take a particular twist as we move forward with our lives."
"The spotlight now shines on each and every one of you individually, something rather worthy of congratulations," she said. "It is time for you to pick up an empty book layered with white, blank pages and begin writing your own stories.
Leskowich thanked her educators and mentors with a message from the graduating class, "because you have miraculously impacted our lives."
Together, we call ourselves seniors of NL, And soon we are obligated to say farewell. To our teachers, supporters, and amazing staff, we all promise to succeed on your behalf. We leave this school to begin anew, a bulldog at heart, with our dreams to pursue. We loved our time here, we bid you goodbye sincerely, the soon-to-be alumni of Northern Lehigh. Thank you and Best Wishes."
Class Valedictorian Heather Heiney told those in attendance that graduation is a time to reflect on the past and look onward to the future, as well as the formal recognition of the hard work the students went through over the past four years.
"Let's be blunt; high school may be the best time of our lives, but it is surely one of the most difficult. At times, our pile of homework seemed to be larger than the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But we've persevered, and made it through, with a diploma to prove it."
Heiney congratulated every single graduate for making it.
"We have achieved a remarkable goal, and had such an amazing experience in the process. It was never easy, but there is no denying our work was worth it. The memories we've made in the process of passing through high school shows the importance of having a goal and a dream in our lives. Through high school, our goal was the diploma we will receive tonight, and the journey to get that diploma is just as important, if not more, than the diploma itself."
Heiney noted that this September, the class won't be coming together for the first day of school as they've done year after year, and that things will never by the same again.
"As we end one glorious chapter of our lives, a new one begins. We have a fresh blank page ahead of us. It is up to us to grab our pens and write our own stories. I ask you grads to take this opportunity to write an unforgettable chapter filled with the fulfillment of your dreams and desires. Let us take what we have learned and let it guide us through to our futures. Getting a diploma tonight is not the end of graduation but rather the beginning of something special."
Heiney ended her speech by telling the class to never stop asking questions, and to "just remember there is always someone who knows more than you so ask to questions to gain answers."
"For our futures, I hope that our worries stay small and that all our dreams reach the stars because the sky's the limit," Heiney said. "To the graduates, there is no better advice I can give than to quote the great Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, "take chances, make mistakes and get messy."
Afterward, Jon DeFrain, a high school Social Studies instructor, took a moment to recognize members of the Class of 1962.
Superintendent Michael Michaels presented the Class of 2012, and told them he was very proud of them for their numerous accomplishments.
Michaels added that "Northern Lehigh is a gem, and is a great place to go to school and raise your families."
"One thing about the Class of 2012 that I've come to admire is that it had the motto: don't tell us what we can't do, we will show you what we can do," Michaels said.
Michaels then took a moment to mention the students who plan to serve our country in the armed forces.
Next, Vlasaty recognized seniors who had won awards. School board President Edward Hartman presented the diplomas.