Brandywine Heights Area High School’s 94 graduates received their diplomas during Commencement at Kutztown University on June 2.
“You have reached a milestone,” said Brandywine Heights Principal Matthew J. Dziunycz who has known the Class of 2021 since 8th grade. “You have accomplished something incredible at a time that at times has not been so incredible and you did so under very challenging circumstances. My suggestion is that above all else and through all this you have proven to yourself how exceptional you all are.”
Sharing advice by his 7-year-old son, Dziunycz said, “Whatever you do next, it’s going to be great.”
Graduating senior Emma Manwiller opened Commencement singing “The National Anthem” and also served as a student speaker.
“To say this year has been challenging would be an understatement,” said Manwiller. “The Class of 2021 has sacrificed so much, more than we ever anticipated or imagined. And yet despite hardship and tribulation we have persevered. Our class thrives within the chaos, seeking to create comfort and safety in this year of unknowns.”
She said that though the losses endured may seem monumental now, they will one day look back upon their time together and truly comprehend the positive ways in which this experience shaped them.
“Together, we have accomplished something great,” Manwiller said.
Student speaker Abigail E. Craft said this year has been anything but typical.
“Sure, our struggles made us stronger but I would have traded any strength for the time I missed with the people I care about for a more normal experience. But in reflection on this chaotic, unpredictable year, I learned that the only way I can resolve my bitterness is if I make it mean something. So, what did it mean?”
Craft said that even though she couldn’t see her friends, she spent more time with her family than she ever will get again before heading off to college.
"Maybe we never asked to be stronger, but now we are. We had no choice but to grow, to form new relationships or fortify the ones we had,” said Craft. “If I learned anything in the global pandemic, it is that there is nothing that is promised to us. When it comes to worldwide panic and chaos, the only real thing you can control is yourself. And now… nothing feels as scary.”
She encouraged the Class of 2021 to take risks.
“Success is never going to happen to us accidentally.”
Referencing a quote by actor Jim Carey, Craft said, “You can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love, so take the risk because the consequences of failure couldn’t be as bad as the consequences of you never trying. The future is in our hands now so let’s take ahold of it and wring out all of the joy it has to offer us. The world is ours. Let’s go take it.”
Senior Class Officer Avery C. Simpson reflected on their early days as kindergartners, “School was surprisingly fun. Who would have thought? It was not so scary after all,” and shared their many memories throughout their time at Brandywine.
“While we did miss out on some of those things this year, we have persevered through it all. We are all here today to celebrate that accomplishment, finally all together as a class... I am proud to say we have made it to the end of our years at Brandywine. This pandemic has taught us all to be resilient with the strength to tackle any future obstacles that we will soon come to face.”
Concluding, Simpson said, “We all hold a piece of Brandywine in our hearts and have great futures ahead of us… We made it, everyone. Now go forth and be your best you.”
Brandywine Superintendent Andrew M. Potteiger said he has watched much of the Class of 2021 grow since kindergarten.
“You have accomplished much during your time at Brandywine as talented students, athletes, artists, musicians, but most importantly as wonderful caring and compassionate individuals. I hope these strong character traits, which your parents instilled in you and have been imbedded through your life experiences so far, remain your guiding light. There are so many exciting opportunities… I am so eager to see where you go in life.”
The Class of 2021 has overcome challenges that made them stronger and more resilient, said Potteiger.
“It is your values of integrity, honesty, loyalty, respectfulness, responsibility, compassion, and humility that have and will continue to help you forge your way through the tough patches and enable you to come out on the other side more resilient.”
Commencement also included a performance by the Brandywine Choral Ensemble, singing “Things That Never Die.”