MUNCY - After a dignified ceremony on the front lawn of the Muncy High School, Superintendent Portia Brandt bestowed the honor of graduation upon 75 seniors Friday night.
"This community embraces what is right, what is true and what is fair," Brandt said. "We want that in our homes, in our schools and in our graduates."
Brandt's tone, proud and earnest, reflected the appropriate mood of the setting. The old school building with decorated parents, relatives and friends on the front lawn before it commanded a modest reverence.
Members of Muncy High?School Class of 2014 patiently wait in line to receive their diplomas Friday evening.
At the procession's onset, the graduates, broken up into two groups, exited the building from the far sides one-by-one and made their ways down the sidewalks and around the crowd, cameras flashing to capture model students on an academic runway.
When all were finally seated, high school principal Tim Welliver addressed them and the crowd.
"Enjoy the view and cherish this moment," he said. "Because it doesn't get much better than this."
The sacredness of the journey to the ceremony and the ceremony itself was a theme inherent in the remarks of every speaker.
Gina Paisley, class secretary, spoke of her triumph over an athletic injury from which she is still recovering.
"It's been 221 days since my injury and I am 221 days stronger," Paisley said, turning the "scrapes and bruises" she incurred as a student at Muncy into transformative memories.
"This is one more memory that will never fade away," she said of the ceremony. She said Muncy made her "wiser and resilient enough to handle adulthood," but that commencement is "a time to reflect and celebrate childhood."
Class secretary Tierney Shaible said that Muncy high school, "introduced and prepared us for life."
Before the graduates received their diplomas, they heard from Dr. Mary Bennardi, guest speaker and the latest member of the Muncy High School Academic Hall of Fame. She was welcomed to the stage by Welliver.
Bennardi, a lifelong Muncy resident, is the 20th member of the hall of fame.
Welliver said inducting her was an easy decision.
"It took us longer to read her accomplishments than decide to induct her," he said. Welliver praised her community service and dedication to the underserved.
Bennardi - the school dentist with her own practice in the borough - took to the podium and drew parallels between the class of 2014 and her own graduating class. She graduated from Muncy in 1984.
"Though we had the big 80s hair and the high-waisted jeans, we were just like you," she said.
She urged the class to "think about what you can give to the world," as she praised a Muncy education, calling it "strong and dependable," like the "beautiful building," behind her.
Emily Sweeney, who sang the Star Spangled Banner to open the ceremony, provided remarks as well. She spoke as one for her entire graduating class.
"We started high school with lots of hesitance, but with hopeful eyes," she said. "Look at us now ... Here we stand, on the edge of tomorrow."