LOGANTON-Determination, strength and courage rang through the voices of those speaking at Sugar Valley Rural Charter School's 12th graduation last night.
Indeed, the teachers at the rural high school have encouraged and helped the 17 graduates develop those characteristics throughout their years there, the speakers noted.
Before commencement, the students excitedly zipped-up their forest green graduation robes and donned their mortarboards.
The 17 Sugar Valley Rural Charter School graduates pose as a group one final time before commencement.
As they joked, laughed and posed for last-minute photos, their class advisor and technology teacher Jeremy Rossman praised their work ethic.
"They're really hard workers...I'm going to miss these guys," he said.
Soon-to-be graduates LaShawn Orwig and Michaela Shoudy talked about what they want to do post-graduation. Orwig wants to go into mechanical engineering, and Shoudy will go to LHU for business. After that, Shoudy would love to work as a glass blower in Corning, N.Y.
The students soon lined up for their final walk into the school.
CEO Logan D. Coney welcomed the students to their commencement.
"You bring to us a multitude of talents...You brightened our lives with your bantering in the hallways, your constant need for us to remind you to take off your hats," she said with a laugh.
"You are about to embark on a journey that will require your constant effort to (succeed)....You are all very gifted young men and young ladies, and our effort for these many years has been to convince you of that," she said.
She concluded her remarks with a quote from Winston Churchill.
"'To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.'"
Salutatorian Angela Snook told her classmates to go after the things that make them happy.
"Don't rely on others to make you happy...get a job you enjoy, a spouse that you love," she said.
She encouraged them to see themselves as worthwhile people, no matter who tells them otherwise.
"Don't let anyone put you down and make you feel worthless....You are not inferior to anyone else....You are a wonderful person," she said.
Snook went on to thank those who greatly influenced their lives.
"I'd like to thank the teachers who spent hours and pages to (teach us)....They pressed on, knowing their effort would pay off. Thank you teachers for all you do," she said.
Finally, she settled on the fleeting nature of life.
"We're all just human beings trying to survive....Be nice to everyone you meet...because you never know when you might be gone," she concluded.
Valedictorian James Lamey humorously summarized the school lessons he's taking with him.
"They've taught us the magic number is three: If you hear a teacher tell you something three times, you know they're serious.
"In math class we learned that pi is not something you eat, and in English class we learned that ain't ain't a word," he said.
This school has offered him rich experiences he wouldn't have had elsewhere, he said. "We've done things here many kids don't get to do. Like butchering animals on campus...and stocking fish...and kayaking in the Susquehanna River. We get rewards like playing laser tag and going to restaurants and movie days.
"But this high school is greater than grades and field trips-it's an education in life from each other," he said.
In the end, the friends made are the lasting lessons, he said.
"These friendships will last longer than remembering how to cite sources in MLA style," he said.
You never know where you'll go from here or what you'll accomplish, he noted.
"Look around you," he told his classmates. "Maybe the person next to you will be the next Bill Gates, or the person in front of you will be the next Picasso."
He too concluded on a sober note, that we're only given a finite amount of time to accomplish significance.
"We're given one life. What will you do with yours?" he asked.
Jesselyn Lupold gave the commencement address. She graduated SVRCS in 2008 and now has a bachelor in criminology, and is going on to get her masters.
She spoke of her experience at the small, rural school, and college.
"This is a monumental turning point in your lives, and also a nervous one....College was a learning experience for me. I was used to an entire school of 250 students to going to a college of 29,000 students. It was my first time facing challenges independently," she said.
After reading Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," she likened it to their experiences at the school.
"That is like your time here at the school. It helped you grow as an individual, and each of you has a unique set of skills that will help you in the future....You too are at a crossroads like Robert Frost's poem. Which path will you take?" she asked.
She exhorted them to follow through on their goals.
"You begin a new chapter in your life tonight, whether you go into the military or to college, go after your aspirations and see them through," she said.
Like the other speakers, she highlighted the school's size and location as an advantage.
"Some people believe coming from a small town is a disadvantage, but that's not true. Dig deep within yourselves to find determination and strength....This rural area is a place you can develop your skills....The teachers and staff have offered their humor, dedication, and a shoulder to cry on. " she said.
Lupold warned that it will not always be easy.
"The road to success is not a smooth one. You are going to stumble, but these stumbling blocks will make you stronger," she said.
She closed with a quote by Thomas Edison.
"'Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.'"
With a heartfelt smile, she looked at the graduates.
"Congratulations, Class of 2012, you did it!"
The Rotary Student Citizen of the Year award was presented to Angela Snook, and the Phoenix Award (for students who went to the school all their lives) went to Cody Lehman, James Lamey and Danny Gentzel.
The SVRCS Band played the processional, "Pomp and Circumstance"; the SVRCS Band played the National Anthem; and Francis Scott Key sang the "Star Spangled Banner."
The SVRCS chorus and staff sang "There Will be a New Day," and the band played the recessional, "Royal Crown March."
The SVRCS Class of 2012 were Brian Carstetter, Aaron Fisher, Daniel Gentzel, Jeffrey Haines, Travis Hawksworth, Trevor Hawksworth, Michael Hill, Cody Kreisher, James Lamey, Cody Lehman, LaShawn Orwig, Natosha Pursell, Taylor Sheleman, Michaela Shoudy, Lukas Smith, Angela Snook and Tyler Stroble.