Fifteen students became the newest graduates of St. John Neumann Regional Academy High School and the first high school graduating class in Lycoming County in 2013 on Monday evening at the Community Arts Center.
Graduates were reminded to keep their faith-based education at the center of their lives as they go on to new beginnings and challenges before them.
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, of the Diocese of Scranton, told the departing seniors to believe in themselves.
"Never underestimate what has been given to you through this school, your family and your faith," he said. "Make a difference for good in this world. That is our hope for you."
Salutatorian Joseph Robert Pierce reminisced about his class' ups and downs and knack for sometimes getting in trouble.
"Without character, our class would not be special," he said.
Pierce said he and his fellow classmates have grown in experience, trust and self-reliance.
James Joseph Gibbons Jr., valedictorian, said some things learned during high school did not come through textbooks or homework.
"We have learned lessons at Neumann that will carry on throughout our lives," Gibbons said, noting how the class grew to become like a family.
Stephen D. Keener, president and CEO of Little League Baseball Inc., gave the keynote address, relaying a few tips to graduates using examples of sports icons' careers.
Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen overcame adversity to eventually win a gold medal at the 1994 Olympics. But not before falling on the ice at the onset of a race in the 1988 Olympics just after learning that his sister died of leukemia.
Even with setbacks, Jansen never gave up, Keener said.
One of the best hitters in the baseball failed more times then he succeeded, he added. Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams, while hitting .400 in 1941, made an out six out of 10 times, he said.
"It's OK to strike out. You will get kicked down from time to time," Keener said. "The important thing is to get back up."
Keener also told the graduating class to remember the love and sacrifice of their families have given to them.
"There are a lot of people out here who love you very much. Take just a moment for that and thank them," he said.
A special award also was presented to Lorraine and William Manos, who were given the St. John Neumann Regional Academy Leadership Spotlight Award of Excellence.
Owners of the Fairfield Auto Group for more than 26 years, the Manos' were recognized for their contributions to the academy.
"In addition to business entrepreneurship and development, Bill and Lorraine are the epitome of philanthropists," said Frank G. Pellegrino, president of the academy's governance board of directors. "Year after year, event after event, Bill and Lorraine donate their time and treasures to the causes" in our communities.