South grads walk in 126th commencement

Rion Michael Withers walks into Mountie Stadium as the South Williamsport Area School District clelebrated the 126th commencement service Thursday evening.

Family and friends fanned themselves with programs as the sun descended Thursday evening and the South Williamsport Class of 2019 entered the football stadium for the 126th annual commencement.

With “Success” as the theme of the evening, senior Jacqueline Wright asked her fellow graduates, “How can we maintain a positive perspective when it feels like there are a million decisions to be made in a world of unknown?”

“In the real world it is important to find our own techniques to invigorate us to climb the tallest of mountains,” she said.

Following this theme, classmate Jovanna Fagnano told the group, “We have all encountered major struggles in our search for success.”

She cited the perseverance of the school’s football team as they faced a tough season this school year resulting in several injuries, but led to the team making the playoffs.

“Our players persevered through the season by facing their problems head on and fighting to overcome their struggles,” she said.

“Ultimately it isn’t just about how quickly you fix the problem. What really matters is your ability to adapt to unseen circumstances, and your willingness to change your plans to remain efficient and achieve your goals,” she added.

Valedictorian Devin Brown continued the theme by addressing his classmates.

“Fellow seniors just like you, or perhaps even more, I’ve been looking forward to this day for a very long time. Today, part of our destinies are fulfilled, Today we finally cast aside our small school lives into something much greater, the unknown future,” he said.

Offering advice for that future, Brown said, “Don’t grow just to look like a good person. Anybody can pretend to be an outstanding community leader when they’re being scrutinized. Anyone can treat those above them or at their level with dignity and respect, yet be nasty to anybody else. Grow not only in how you act but in how you think. Do your best work. If you are doing something it should be worth your while. You only have one life, so there’s no point in living it halfheartedly.”

The keynote speaker for the evening was 1999 alumni Brandi Robinson, who is now an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University.

She told the graduates that they should be prepared for the future, but they also should expect that there may be a change in their direction at some point. She used her own change in career trajectory in college when she switched from what she believed was going to be a future in creative writing, but which changed to teaching in geography and climate sciences.

“When I think about where you are right now, I imagine it as you’ve just programmed your destination into a GPS. You’ve accepted your route. You’ve accepted admission to a university. You’ve taken a job offer, You’ve made a plan. But just know that route to get you to where you’re going it’s probably going to recalculate,” she told the graduates.

“We need to program our GPS with that destination in mind and then be open to the recalculations that it throws us. So whether you end up exactly where you think you’re going to as you sit here today or your path takes some unexpected turns for a passion you haven’t even discovered is out there yet, be okay with that, embrace that. Don’t fear the unknown or avoid the uncomfortable. Embrace those things,” she urged the students.

Around 85 students received diplomas at the commencement.