Williamsport Area High School graduates received flowers, hugs, well wishes and balloons as they celebrated their accomplishments at Thursday night's 141st commencement ceremony. It was those balloons that one student speaker focused on as she addressed the class of 2012.
"What I like the best about balloons is they stand for celebration," said Rosa M. Ciccarelli.
Ciccarelli explained that the graduates have had balloons at each celebration in their lives - birthday parties, prom and others. But with those balloons they always were told, "hold on tight and don't let go."
NURIA S. HUNTER
Williamsport Area High School seniors participate in graduation ceremonies Thursday.
As the graduates progressed in their lives, they learned to loosen their grip but to still hang on.
"By not holding on so tightly, we learned to explore," Ciccarelli said.
Nuria S. Hunter, student speaker, also said graduates should enjoy each experience. She said that the class has learned not just from the classroom but also from events, such as pep rallies and sporting events.
Hunter added that graduates must not be afraid of the next step. She said they cannot hide when bad experiences occur, but "slap a Band-Aid on it."
Dr. Kathleen Kelley, superintendent, used lessons she learned from her dog to help graduates with the next step.
When her daughter was 15, Kelley said she finally allowed her to get a pet dog, Nigel.
"As you might suspect, my daughter went off to college and Nigel became my dog," she said.
Through their daily walks, Kelley said she learned many important lessons.
"Every walk is a new walk," Kelley told the students.
Kelley explained that even though the two took the same walk every day, Nigel acted as if it was a new one. She said no matter how familiar or unfamiliar each stage in their lives is, graduates must be open to new experiences.
"Dogs focus on the moment, so I stopped worrying about yesterday," she said.
Although graduates were optimistic about the future, board member Jay Shultz said there will bumps on the path to the top.
"Life doesn't come in a straight line," he said.
Cassandra N. Moore, senior class president, said their time in the district has put given each graduate the tools to do great things in the future.
"Sitting behind me is the next (Albert) Einstein or Olympic athlete," Moore said.
Each speaker concluded with hopes for what lies next in their lives.
"As we learned from balloons, the best direction to go is up," Ciccarelli said.
"Class of 2012, our possibilities are endless," Hunter concluded.