Palmerton Area High School celebrates 110 graduates
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Josh Evans, class president and valedictorian of the 2014Palmerton Area High School graduating class, gives his addressduring Monday's graduation ceremony at Penn's Peak.
One's identity cannot be found on a certificate, or a piece of paper.
Instead, it's found in how a person treats others, how hard they work when no one else is looking and how they respond to challenges in their life.
That was one of several messages shared with members of the Palmerton Area High School Class of 2014, which graduated Monday at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
In all, 110 students received diplomas during the 106th annual commencement exercises, which began with a performance of "Wanting Memories" by the high school chorus, featuring senior Benjamin Winn.
Afterward, class President Joshua Evans welcomed those in attendance.
Speakers were Evans, class valedictorian, and class salutatorian Jessica Debski.
Debski said that while inspirational speeches carry a lot of value, she was not there to give an inspirational speech.
"I like looking at the facts and the reality," she said. "It's the truth that really matters, and during my speech you will be faced with the truth."
Debski said that graduation doesn't identify a person, nor does it tell others who that person is.
"Some people have already found their identity, and some people have yet to find it," she said. "These inspirational speeches, that I was referring to earlier, talk about our future and how well we are going to do and how successful we are going to become, but honestly no one knows that. We have to find that out for ourselves."
For his speech, Evans told the class that he was chosen to speak to them because he is class valedictorian after he accumulated the highest grade point average.
"They could have at least picked the best public speaker to do this job," Evans said. "But they didn't, and guess what? I'm average."
Evans continued that in this society, "we don't praise the average."
"We're supposed to praise the rich, the famous, the extraordinary," he said. "But, you know what else? All of those people that are rich, famous, and extraordinary at whatever they excel at are also average people in many other societal categories. And you know what? Average is awesome."
High school Principal Paula Husar then gave the presentation of the class.
As part of it, Husar spoke of how the class brought back "Blue Bomber Pride."
Superintendent Scot Engler then gave the acceptance of the class.
Engler focused his remarks on two main focal points: How outstanding the class is, and how fortunate he was to have this be the first graduating class under his tenure.
School board President Tammy Recker presented the diplomas.
She focused her remarks on the 1985 movie, "Back to the Future."
She said things have remained much the same in the 23 years since she graduated from PHS.
Evans then gave the acceptance of diplomas.
Just a few minutes later, the students exited the building and emerged outside one last time as a group.
For complete coverage of the graduation, with additional photos, check out the Times News Graduation supplement, which will be published on Thursday, June 26.