WEIRTON - Weirton Madonna High School honored its 34 newest graduates Sunday during commencement exercises for the Class of 2013, held at St. Joseph the Worker Parish.
Welcoming her fellow graduates, family, friends and the school's faculty, Salutatorian and Senior Class President Amy Davis recalled some words of advice she received while making the transition to high school four years ago.
She said she was told by the secretary at St. Joseph the Worker Grade School to enjoy high school, because it goes by so quickly.
SPECIAL DAY — Weirton Madonna High School held commencement exercises Sunday at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, recognizing the 34 members of the Class of 2013. -- Craig Howell
"Four years is a long time, but as I look back I realize she was right," Davis said.
In her salutatorian address, Davis would continue by discussing some of the class' experience over the years, beginning with memories of the Sept. 11 attacks while they were in first grade. She also recalled being afraid of the seniors during freshman year, numerous good times and a few bad.
"None of these memories would have been possible without our families, friends and teachers," she said.
She concluded by encouraging her classmates to go out into the world and make new memories, new friends and experience new things, noting a quote from her favorite fictional character - Batman - saying "It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you."
Valedictorian Sarah Mills continued looking back over the class' high school years, including the loss of Sarah Smalley, who would have been a part of the class. Smalley died in the summer of 2005.
"I'm sure she is watching down on us today, smiling," Mills said.
Mills said, leaving the school and starting on a new journey, they will all be faced with numerous choices in determining who they will be.
She encouraged her classmates to embrace the college experience, try new things, take risks, and, quoting Walt Disney, "Keep moving forward."
Weirton attorney Michael Nogay served as the guest speaker Sunday, relaying some of his own advice gathered from his life and experiences.
He told the class to never confuse being lucky with being special, to set their sights high and dream big, and, noting improvements done at Madonna in recent years, he encouraged the students to find ways to give back and help their own little corner of the world.
"If we each do our small part, this whole world will be a better place," Nogay said.
Nogay encouraged the students to stay away from drugs and alcohol, suggesting they even forego pain medication when getting their wisdom teeth removed.
"Live with the pain and discomfort for a few days," he said, noting too many people these days become addicted to pain medicine.
Finally, he told the class to never rely on others for their own happiness in life.
"Ultimately, it is your job," he said.
The members of the Weirton Madonna Class of 2013 included Serra Alongi, Amanda Best, Lacey Boreman, Madison Burchill, Julia Castellucci, Nicholas Conforti, David Crawley, David Cullinan, Amy Davis, Makenna Dziatkowicz, Dylan Fenske, James Fulciniti Jr., Steven Fuscardo, Toriano Fuscardo, Gina Granato, Alan Green, Taylor Himmelrick, Joseph Holmes, Quintin Hukill, Emalee Hvizdak, Garrett Hypes, Corey Perri-Johnson, Alexia Korth, Charles Kotten, Kaitlin Kramer, Kaitlin McGaughey, Sarah Mills, Dominic Notni, Taylor Pavan, Cassidy Psaroudis, Nicolette Sellitti, Taylor Thomas, Rachel Veltri and Alexandra Yazbek.
As part of the commencement exercises, several scholarships and other awards to presented to the graduates, with Principal Steve Grasser reporting more than $500,000 in scholarships had been available this year.
(Howell can be contacted at email@example.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)