The 358 Williamsport Area High School graduating seniors of the class of 2013 celebrated their accomplishments, while also looking forward to new challenges and opportunities in the future Thursday night during commencement exercises in the auditorium.
Like a dandelion seed in the wind, speakers said graduates will be planted into a new stage of their lives and "make something beautiful."
"Whenever you land on your feet, I wish you something beautiful," said Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Kelley, who addressed her last graduating class before retiring later this month.
Zane Wagner gives the first of two “student remarks” during Williamsport Area High School’s 142nd annual Commencement at the high school auditorium on Thursday.
A Williamsport Area High School graduate’s mortar board bears the title of a Dr. Seuss children’s book as she waits to collect her diploma Thursday. On Wednesday, the Sun-Gazette will publish a special section devoted to local grads.
Student speaker Zane Wagner explained how the class has grown from strangers on the first day of
kindergarten to now as friends and graduating seniors.
"That day of kindergarten is when our class' dandelions were rooted," he said.
And just like dandelions do, said student speaker Julia Bresticker, the class has undergone changes and transformations.
"We're all changing and we're all growing," she said.
Those changes made the students who they are today, Wagner said.
"Within these brick walls, I became me and you became you," he said.
And although sometimes challenged, the class shows a resiliency like that of a dandelion.
"People are always trying to get rid of dandelions, but they always come back," Wagner said.
As Bresticker explained, it now is time that the seniors use graduation as a "gust of wind" to go onto the next phase in life. Or as Wagner described it: "new adventure, new story."
But Dante Miele-Elion, class president, reminded graduates not to forget the lessons they learned, "whether you learned it from a textbook or a bathroom stall." He said both life and academic lessons are important as they progress.
And, as they learn, Miele-Elion asked the class to question what they're told is truth and form their own beliefs.
High school Principal Michael Reed named Daniel Ma valedictorian and Olivia Kuzio salutatorian. But Reed added that they were part of a class that made great academic progress. More than 100 students had a cumulative average of 90 percent or more for four years and one-third of the graduating class made the academic honor roll.
And although they were compared to "bothersome weeds," Bresticker said their class is like a field of dandelions, which "is actually a beautiful sight."