Palmerton celebrates 104th graduation
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Seniors Lydia Anthony, Olivia Haydt, Monica Handwerk and Rebekah Ahner perform the song "Butterfly Fly Away" as part of Palmerton Area High School's Class of 2012 commencement exercises Monday at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
It's all about the numbers.
At least, that's what members of the Palmerton Area High School Class of 2012 were told as they celebrated the 104th annual commencement exercises.
Flanked by family and friends, the 138 students who comprised this year's graduation class received their diplomas Monday at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
Commencement exercises began with a welcome from class President Lydia Anthony, who expressed her thanks to everyone who helped and supported the class.
While a part of her is glad to see graduation, Anthony told the class another part of her is sad to know her time at PAHS has ended.
"Now that it's here, my feelings are mixed," Anthony said. "I have feelings of melancholy and nostalgia."
Anthony then told the class they should be thankful to their parents and teachers, because if it were not for them, "we may not have made it here today."
She added that the high school faculty "made our experience enjoyable because they love what they do."
Anthony said the class should "recall" and "embrace" the many memories they've made over their past four years together.
Class Salutatorian Kelsey Hay noted that Albert Einstein, Pythagoras, Nostradamus, and the Mayans all have on thing in common; the fact that they are all instrumental figures in history that based their fame around the concept of math.
Hay told the class "we can all agree that numbers play a huge role in our lives."
"Each day, we are constantly bombarded by numbers; however, we all seem to take for granted the importance of numbers," Hay said. "Tonight, I'd like to share with you how important numbers have been to the Class of 2012, and how these numbers have made us who we are today."
The first number Hay alluded to is 2012, which she said is "the reason we're here tonight, and it's the year we've been looking forward to all throughout our years of school."
"It's the number that always felt so intangible, so far in the future that it seemed as though we'd never get here," Hay said. "But some way or another, we've all made it to this point, regardless of the trials, tests, and hardships that we've faced."
Hay also mentioned the number 13, as in how many years of their lives the class spent in school, and the fact they have completed 2,340 days of school.
"If that isn't something to be proud of, I don't know what is," she said. "For this, I commend each and every one of you, all 138 of you in this room."
Then there is the number 138, said Hay, who added that of the 188 students who began high school with the graduation class, only the 138 in attendance have remained.
But, Hay said the class came together over one number in particular; the number four, which is "one that all 138 of us will forever cherish."
"It is the favorite number and the number that symbolizes of one of our beloved classmates, Nick Bickowski, who left us on that dreaded day in January of tenth grade. Though we were all tremendously saddened by Nick's passing, we soon came to realize that Nick brought us together in a way that no other class could imagine. He taught us to live life in the moment with no regrets, and he taught us to appreciate each other's company. Most of all, though, Nick taught us that we have strength in numbers and that we can all overcome any obstacle placed in front of us if we band together as a class. For this, we will be forever grateful for the number 4 and the boy with fiery red hair and an infectious smile."
Hay then encouraged her classmates to "build upon the memories we've created in our time here."
"More importantly, let's also remember the only number that truly matters tonight, the number 1. Regardless of our differences, we are all here tonight for one reason. We are all here to share in one last celebration of our time together. We are all here as members of one group, the Class of 2012. Though after tonight we'll all be venturing off into 138 different directions, we will always be united by one common bond, the unbreakable bond of the Palmerton High School Class of 2012."
Class Valedictorian Karl Pielmeier III said the class is a "genuinely eclectic group."
Pielmeier then alluded to the class song entitled "2012, It Ain't the End" by Jay Sean and Nicki Minaj.
Once the students go out into the world, Pielmeier said it's important for them to "keep an open mind, and more importantly, an open heart."
"In the case of our class song, I did some more listening and I delved a little further into the lyrics," Pielmeier said. "And with an open mind, I found that our class song truly did have some great advice for our graduating class."
Pielmeier noted that life is short, and challenged his classmates, as well as audience members, "to live life to the fullest."
"Everyone here has goals. Achieve them. Everyone here has expectations. Shatter them. Everyone here has dreams. Live them."
Additionally, Pielmeier challenged those in attendance "to live life as if it were your last 24 hours."
"We're about to realize our full potential, and we're about to become the leaders of tomorrow," he said. "Our world starts now."
Pielmeier then shared his final thought with the class.
"Don't be nervous. Just smile, and take it all in. After all, our class song says, "It ain't the end of the world."
Senior class members Olivia Haydt, Monica Handwerk, Rebekah Ahner and Anthony then performed the song "Butterfly Fly Away".
High school Principal Kathy Egan gave the presentation of the class.
Egan told the class they were "the best of the best."
"They were a great group of kids," Egan said. "I'm certainly going to miss them."
Superintendent Carol Boyce offered more words of encouragement.
"Have the very best of futures," Boyce said. "Make it yours."
School Board President Barry Scherer said he read a recent Reader's Turn in the TIMES NEWS that asked what advice would you give to the Class of 2012.
With assistance from teachers at S.S. Palmer Elementary and Towamensing Elementary, Scherer said he was able to compile a list of responses from fifth grade students in both buildings.
Some of their responses, Scherer noted, were to "Try your best", "If you fail, try again", and "Do what you like, but like what you do".
Scherer then told the students to "be successful in whatever you do."
"Congratulations, and best wishes to the Class of 2012 in all your future endeavors," Scherer said.
Scherer then presented the diplomas to the class.
Anthony and Class secretary Aaron Cook offered the acceptance of the diplomas. The class then sang the school's Alma Mater. The ceremony ended with recessional.