Silence spoke louder than words in showcasing the discipline and dignity of the Fleetwood High School Class of 2014 as its young achievers filed quietly by turn to accept their diplomas on stage before a packed auditorium on Tuesday.
Afterward, with all 201 diplomas in the hands of their beaming recipients, the halls and corridors echoed with the thunderous applause of parents, friends and family.
“My granddaughter Morgan Ardena Farabaugh is on the stage and I have been waiting to cheer her on. She has made us so proud,” gushed Sylvia DeTurck, sitting in the audience together with Ardena’s parents Robert and Melissa and other family members.
The Commencement ceremony began with the rousing National Anthem played by the Fleetwood Area High School Band with Charles M. Ebersole as Director. On a special note, Armed Forces enlistees Amanda Cristina Botelho, Patrick John Coles, Nathan Owen Mayer, Chloe A. McClincy, Conor D. Noll, Nicholas Christopher Schwedes and Cody L. Weidner led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Forging ahead, the class of 2014 spelled out its dreams and plans, all very definitive and not without a dash of imagination and driving ambition.
“So much has changed in the past 14 years. Today, who’s to say standing among us are not the next big names in innovation?” asked Class President Jennifer Mikitka.
Member of the National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society, Mikitka is all set to join the University of Pittsburg to major in Dietetics.
“If you think you won’t make a difference in this world, please reconsider. You might be the next Bill Gates… if you do things with passion.”
“Our generation has so much potential that we don’t even recognize it. The world has changed so much since we have been in it,” Mikitka pointed out, going on to recall both bold and bizarre events that grabbed headlines across the world over the past 14 years.
Featured in Mikitka’s address to the class are introduction of the iPOD, Janet Jackson’s infamous halftime Super Bowl performance, Twitter launch, emergence of Justin Bieber, Beijing Olympic Games, demise of Michael Jackson and banning of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the U.S. military, among other national and global breakthroughs, accompanied over the years by a steady rise in gas prices and dipping economy.
For Valedictorian Elaine Huang, ever since reading Harry Potter, the world of magic held out endless possibilities and a lifetime of fascination.
Citing extensively from the British author J.K. Rowling’s much-acclaimed series, Huang exhorted her classmates: “Whatever it is you are doing, be it furthering your academics in college or joining the workforce or enlisting in the armed forces, always be excited. The world of magic has endless possibilities.”
Keen on majoring in International Relations from the New York University, Huang says her key area of interest is cultural development as opposed to political studies.
“I want to work in the Southeast Asian nations like South Korea and China and study languages.”
If it’s magic that lights the way for Huang, passion holds the key for Salutatorian Peter J. Sitarik.
“Passion is the compass that leads us where we need to go. Passion is a verb with so much meaning. We are all here today, young men and women, for a passion: this moment needed some passion or drive to push us here. Stop looking for a path to follow, there is none. Let your passions guide you into your future.”
Headed to Millersville University to major in chemical engineering, Sitarik confesses: “I am a nerd! And reading is my passion. I can’t get enough of science and learning about the world around me.”
On her part, Morgan Ardena Farabaugh struck a chord with her peers when she said: “Where ever you are and whatever you are doing, learn something new. It doesn’t matter what pattern you are following… and you may be anxious about your decisions, not knowing whether it is the right decision to take. But always know that it is never too late to change your mind and take better decisions.”
The Outstanding Berks Career and Technology Student plans to major in Computer Science from the Penn State University.
Doctors, engineers, scientists, musicians, military personnel, workforce members, mathematicians, or just magicians, the Fleetwood High School Class of 2014 is determined to make a difference – or “Just live the good life!” as newly-graduated Antonio Thomas Goode simply put it.