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CCTI graduates adapt to achieve success

Whether they faced the typical challenges of high school, or the atypical challenges presented by COVID-19, the members of the Carbon Career & Technical Institute Class of 2021 did it with a strong work ethic.

“When I reflect on this year, the desire to work hard is really what kept this class going, despite the many challenges we faced,” Garrett Weaver, the class valedictorian said.

CCTI held its annual graduation ceremony Friday morning. For the first time, graduation took place on the grounds of the school, outdoors but with a tent to provide shelter on a hot, late-spring day.

Ninety-seven students, hailing from the Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, Palmerton, Panther Valley and Weatherly school districts received diplomas.

The students represented 15 subject areas including welding, cosmetology, graphic design and culinary arts.

Weaver, a graduate of the computer engineering and technology program, said there were many distractions that tested the students’ concentration this year. Working at home surrounded them with distractions. Learning through a screen instead of in a classroom made it more difficult to engage with the material.

But the Class of 2021 showed determination.

And Weaver said that drive will serve them well when they are in the workforce.

“No matter what your rank is, or what your academic scoring tells you, so long as you continue to have the work ethic you reflected throughout your high school career, I do not see any reason why you should not find success,” he said.

Salutatorian Gabriel DeMatto shared with the class some advice he received from his father - “Leave it all on the field.” The advice means to give 100 percent and never give up on yourself.

DeMatto said the Class of 2021 should be proud of their journey, COVID-related restrictions and all, because it is unique to them.

“Even though our parents would tell us about how they would have to walk to school in a snowstorm, there is one thing they can’t say that we can, we’ve gone to school during a global pandemic,” he said.

Class president Kayla Nothstein encouraged her classmates to reflect and enjoy the moment. She reminded them to find positives in every situation, don’t worry about things out of their control, and reminded them that they will always share the time they had at CCTI together.

“This class is like a tree, the branches grow in all different directions, but no matter how far they grow, we are always connected at our roots,” she said.

Principal Brent Borzak, like Weaver, told the class that their hard work will be the key to their success in the future.

Borzak said the big secret to success is that there is no secret.

“The only tried and true practices are hard work, a commitment to excellence in everything you do and a continuation of that throughout your years,” he said.

Tiana Montesrin waits to take the stage to receive her diploma during the Carbon Career & Technical commencement ceremony Friday morning. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Class of 2021 officers, from left, Kayla Nothstein, president; Madison Santos, secretary; Alexandria Harris vice president; and Tabitha Hardy, treasurer, applaud the Class of 2021 after moving their tassels to celebrate graduation.
CCTI culinary arts students, from left, Aiden Marzen, Angela Lewis, Cecelia Leskowsky and Brianna Hanes look out from beneath their decorated graduation caps. See more photos at tnonline.com CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS