Millionaires celebrate high school graduation

Thursday night was a celebration of choices made and choices to come, as 347 Williamsport Area High School students stepped up to receive their diplomas.

“Life is filled with choices,” Superintendent Don Adams said, encouraging the seniors to “reach beyond your comfort zone” and make meaningful decisions that can help others.

Some people volunteer at homeless shelters, work with hospice patients to make their last days peaceful or donate their own blood to save lives, he explained.

“These conscious choices people make, to meet the needs of (others), are deeply rewarding,” Adams said.

“You can focus on yourself” or you can can make “meaningful” decisions, he added. “The choice is yours.”

The class quote, by author J.K. Rowling, echoed his talk: “It is our choices … that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Still, the skills and talents of the Millionaires’ Class of 2014 are noteworthy. Head Principal Michael Reed read a long list of prizes and academic honors that the graduates received and accomplishments made throughout the district.

“We’ll never have this moment again. Savor it,” said student speaker Genevieve Beatty.

The National Honor Society member said she auditioned for the privilege to speak at graduation using a speech she wrote on a sturdy paper towel.

“You have to work with what you have,” she said. “It takes grit.”

She encouraged her classmates to always look forward, “imagine our future as adults” and face the unknown with courage.

“It means ignoring your nerves and taking risks,” Beatty said. “You’ve made it this far. Be brave enough to move on.”

Her co-speaker was Sabrina Emms, class salutorian and the No. 2 ranked senior in the class.

“This is just another speech, but it’s the last time I might talk to some of you,” she said.

Throughout their high school career, Emms said she and her classmates received an education that only improved if they put their whole heart and mind into it. Study and practice begat success.

“We go to class and we persevere,” Emms said, “but next year, the choice to (work) will be ours. Some of the biggest, most important decisions are ahead of us.”

Livia Nash, class president, had the honor of speaking just before diplomas were distributed. She challenged the audience to “beat Ellen DeGeneres’ record on Twitter.”

When DeGeneres hosted the Oscars in April, she took a self-portrait, known as a selfie, with a group of actors and actresses including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep. She posted the photo on Twitter, a social media website, and so many people retweeted the photo that the site’s servers became overloaded and shut down.

Nash dashed in front of the staff and students, snapping selfies on her phone.

“Remember where we came from,” she urged, sharing some of the “stereotypical high-school adventures” she loved the most, such as prom and popular sports events.

“We made memories that are unique,” Nash said. “No matter what direction we choose to go … it’ll be rewarding to look back. This is a snapshot of the rest of our lives.”