AVELLA, Pa. - The Avella High School Class of 2013 celebrated the school's 87th annual commencement exercises - and the very first of those to be celebrated outdoors - Friday evening at the high school football field.
Valedictorian Pauline "Polly" Clarchick gave the address.
"Congratulations, we made it!" she said.
GRADUATES — The Avella High School Class of 2013 celebrates after being presented to the school board and audience by Principal Thomas Graham. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
Clarchick spoke about the class being unique, adding the group's foibles and eccentricities were their commonality. She briefly touched on some individual class members' oddities, including a preoccupation with super heros, an inability to perceive sarcasm and stubbornness. She also spoke about their teachers' individual qualities, referencing science teacher Carl Hage's "molecule dance." In response, the senior class stood and performed the dance en masse.
She then referenced Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," and encouraged her classmates to blaze their own paths. Clarchick also referenced Langston Hughes' "Dreams."
"Remember to always stay true to yourself - and dream," she said.
Salutatorian Drew Hodgkiss also addressed the class, welcoming the faculty and parents before launching into a list of cliches.
"Tonight we celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2013," he said.
Hodgkiss told his classmates that graduation wasn't the highlight of their lives, but was only the end of the first chapter of their stories.
"Seniors, be sad, because you're leaving your friends," he said. "Parents, be sad, because your children are going off on their own - or be happy."
He told his classmates they weren't defined by their grades or detentions and that, while they will take many paths, including secondary education, employment or enlistment, their resolution to be successful and not expect to receive anything without hard work was more important.
Avella Area School District Superintendent Janell Louge-Belden briefly addressed the graduates and their parents.
"I can only imagine the special pride you have in your heart," she said.
She thanked the graduates' families and the high school faculty for their assistance in the graduates' success.
"This is a district that seeks the best for each and every one of you," she said.
School Board President Corey McConn also spoke briefly, thanking the families, administration, teachers and staff for their commitment.
"On behalf of the school board, I'd like to say that we're proud of you and what you've achieved thus far," he said. "Be safe and always be proud being part of the Class of 2013."
The Avella Area High School Band performed "Pomp and Circumstance" as both the processional and recessional under the direction of Nicholas Deutsch and performed the alma mater under the direction of senior Olivia English. The senior class lead the audience in singing the alma mater. English also read the class poem, which she had written, and Principal Thomas Graham gave the introduction and presented the class.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)