‘Today is practice for tomorrow’
Class of 2019 President Danielle M. Colapietro, carrying the class key, led approximately 758 of her classmates toward a new chapter in their lives, receiving their high school diplomas at Parkland High School’s commencement ceremony June 11 at the PPL Center, Allentown.
The procession of seniors dressed in red and gray gowns walked into the arena as the high school band, under the direction of Jason D. Lerew, performed “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar.
Welcoming the Class of 2019, family, friends, school board members and staff at the ceremony was Parkland High School Assistant Principal Crystal George.
George said the Class of 2019 holds a special place for her personally as she has gotten to know many of them personally and they are a great group of students who will be missed.
“Tonight’s ceremony is a time to reflect on all that you have achieved throughout the past four years,” George stated. “It is also a time to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in your life with your classmates, family and friends.”
Colapietro, before presenting the class key to Grace Smith, Class of 2020 president, addressed her classmates.
“I am grateful to be the president of such an amazing class and honored to be giving this speech to you tonight,” Colapietro said. “The memories we have made in high school will stay with us the rest of our lives.
“Whether those memories were made while taking the field with your best friends, starring in “26 Pebbles,” the events during Homecoming Week, being a part of the best pack in the Valley … cheering on your favorite Mr. Parkland contestants, performing in concerts or enjoying one of our final nights together at prom, you made these memories to hold onto as you move onto the next chapter in your life.
“When you look back you can say you are a Parkland High School graduate in a school with over 3,200 students.”
Colapietro said the most valuable thing she learned about the future was from one of her teachers.
“In junior year, first period I had world studies with Mr. Crawford,” Colapietro said. “He told me if you screw up, don’t dwell, today is practice for tomorrow. Those words have resided with me ever since.
“Being in control of your own life is not easy and trust me you will fail but the people graduating with you tonight have failed with you multiple times.
“I have seen all we have accomplished this year and I am a firm believer that we will continue to accomplish and experience great things.
“What you do with the opportunities that await you is solely your decision.
“Use the lessons you learned in high school to create the best life for yourself.”
She then closed her address.
“It has been an absolute pleasure making so many memories together over the last four years,” Colapietro said. “I wish you all the best of luck in everything you do from now on.”
After a musical presentation of “I Feel So Much Spring” student speaker Olivia Behr addressed the class.
“Class of 2019 we made it, but we certainly did not do it alone,” Behr said. “Now look at every one sitting around you. Every one of these people is connected to your journey.”
She told her classmates they maybe trying to swim in a world of billions but that they are not alone.
“We all want the same thing,” she stated. “There maybe many people trying to jam their way out of the parking lot of life before the buses, but you will make a way because Parkland has given us the key. It is something that was taught to us by the many school staff members we are so grateful to have met.”
Behr told her fellow classmates all they need to do to change the world, make it big or achieve success is to connect with the people around them.
“Connection is an integral part of fulfilling life and whether you believe it is so, it is the most important lesson that Parkland has taught us,” she stated. “The most important things Parkland has taught us is not how to do it alone, but how to be compassionate, how to use our voices, how to push ourselves to the limit and how to connect with people. Now it is our turn to take these lessons and share them with the world.”
After the presentation of the National Honor Society awards, and greeting and presentation of the reading of the names of Top 3 percent of the Class of 2019, Lisa A. Roth, vice president with the Parkland Board of School Directors addressed the class.
“It is my great honor to accept and congratulate the Class of 2019 on behalf of the Parkland Board of School Directors,” Roth said. “As already mentioned tonight, connecting with people is probably the best thing you can do in your life.
“So my advice is to meet as many people as you can because you may never know, you may think you don’t want to … and that person is not going to do anything to enhance your life, trust me they will,” Roth said.
Superintendent Richard T. Sniscak also spoke to the soon-to-be graduates.
“High school graduation is a major turning point in your life.” Sniscak said. “Tonight is about celebrating the memories of the past while holding great expectations for the future.”
“This year’s senior class is a terrific group of students, possessing diverse talents in a wide range of skills,” he added. “You are an accomplished graduating class that has brought pride and honor to Parkland.
“What we refer to as the three pillars of a quality comprehensive educational program-academics, the arts and athletics, through your accomplishments within each of these pillars have made us extremely proud,” Sniscak stated. “Your high school and our school district received local, state, national and international recognition because of the multitude of accomplishments attributed to the Class of 2019.”
Before closing his speech he told the seniors that the next few years will bring exciting choices and opportunities their way.
After the awarding of diplomas, Parkland High School Principal James E. Moniz II told members of the Class of 2019 it was an honor serving as their principal the last four years.
“As it was previously noted, you obviously distinguished yourself on the playing field, in the classroom, on the stage, pretty much all that you did you brought nothing buy incredible accolades to Parkland High School,” Moniz stated. “I hope these memories last you a lifetime and you cherish them and you continue to take what you learned at Parkland High School forward into the next stages of your career, whether it be the workforce, college or in the military, whatever you do.
“And in closing, on behalf of the board of school directors and administrative faculty and staff, congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2019.”