Brandywine Heights High School Principle Heather A. Piperato said the Class of 2014 had distinguished itself by knowing who they are as people.
The 2014 Class has an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, a drive, a compass with a true North needle.
“Values and beliefs that are already yours, not just your family’s—yours, holding you so steady that you have largely been able to escape the self-centeredness of the ‘who am I’ question. The freedom that comes with knowing this answer has in turn allowed you to ask a second question, ‘why not each of us?’”
“Your peer group doesn’t define you. You already know who you are and because you do, you’ve enjoyed the fellowship of your friends while forging a new path for yourselves and finding time to do so for the benefit of others,” said Piperato.
Valedictorian Matthew Weidner recognized the Class of 2014’s accomplishments: state champion softball team, qualified at the FBLA National Competition, pioneered Brandywine’s Chinese program in Asian Studies Club, taken part in four vaudeville shows, numerous art related events including the last and biggest fashion show, founded the Key and Lock Club and organized fundraisers to help those in need and fund medical research.
For a humorous note, they beat the junior class in this year’s game of powder-puff football.
“I want you to remember how you grew up at Brandywine Heights, how you learned here, how you gained experience here. Remember the friendships you made and the laughs you shared. Remember your achievements and the people who helped you reach your achievements. Remember how you became the person who you are today,” said Weidner.
Salutatorian Anna K. Junge said, “The important thing for us to realize is that we must keep moving forward. It is time for all of us to take hold of our own lives and move towards our dreams and goals.”
Tyler E. Reighn, 2014 class president, said “We’ve all been equipped with the tools necessary to face these challenges. Stay young; keep dreaming.”
“Children have the power to imagine and have the ambition to create new realities and now that we’re growing up, we can actually create the worlds that we’re dreaming of,” said Reighn. “We’re being handed a world that’s devastated environmentally, economically, and politically. We have to confront these issues eventually, but we have the ability to actually change it. Don’t let anyone tell you that things can never change because only we can determine our future. Don’t think about how we can change this world, just do it.”
After graduation, it was hugs and kisses between family, hugs and tears between friends as they talked about their future journeys.
Shania Rupp said, “I think that I’ve grown so much as a person and I believe that I can do so many more great things and I’m just excited to be graduated.”
Rupp is planning a career as a psychologist and wants to start a family. She said she is excited for what life will bring her.
Britney Schell, Rupp’s best friend, said, “I learned so much in high school. The good and the bad; you just gotta get through it. Friendship means a lot. Keep the good ones; fake ones leave them.”
Schell will be attending Galen College of Nursing, Florida.
Morgan Larese’s sister, Tia, was proud of her brother. She said Morgan began taking Chinese while at Brandywine and plan’s on studying history in East Asian Studies at Ursinus College. Tia said he hopes to study abroad in Beijing.
Among the 129 graduating seniors, 40 of them, nearly all of them with no reward for their volunteerism, had completed at least 40 hours of community service in the Brandywine and Kutztown area. These students had been awarded citizenship pins worn on their robes during graduation.
Guest speaker Karen Rhode, retired elementary school teacher, said, “Don’t take what you have for granted; expand on your opportunities. Give your best effort no matter what it is you chose to do whether it’s continuing your education, finding a job, going into the services, or building a home and a family.”
Rhode related experiences from traveling to less fortunate countries and reflections on past teaching experiences including an Underground Railroad activity where students put themselves in others shoes and could feel compassion for those who actually actively lived it.
“Experiences. That’s what I’m talking about,” said Rhode. “Get all that you can. There’s a big world out there. Don’t sit back and watch. Use your education to expand your minds. Have a good work ethic. Be an active part of your community. Give back and share your talents. You have a lot to offer.”
Rhode also advised for the students to surround themselves with people who will challenge them. She said being happy is one thing, but being fulfilled knowing that you have not waited for things to be handed to you, but you’ve worked hard for them, is experiencing life to the fullest. Life is about working together and helping each other.
Superintendent Andrew M. Potteiger offered advice to the graduates. “I hope you have a vision, work ethic, and dedication to drive you to accomplish your goals. You may stumble a little bit on the way. Hold tight to your values and morals and pick yourself up and keep pushing forward towards you life goals. It is your life and I hope you make the best of it for you and all of the community. Congratulations 2014.”