The Penns Valley Area High School Class of 2014 walked the stage Friday night with a thought that most students said was “a bittersweet moment.” But many were eager to move on to the next step in their lives — some leaving the valley altogether.
Luckily, the clouds parted and the sun came out while the graduates walked the stage. Parents said it was a perfect day to be outdoors to watch their sons and daughters graduate.
It was one of its largest classes yet and had 10 valedictorians, said Principal Dustin Dalton.
NUMBER OF GRADUATES: 113.
WHERE: Football field adjacent to the high school.
COLORS: The boys wore blue caps and gowns with a white carnation, while the girls wore white caps and gowns with a blue carnation in hand.
VALEDICTORIANS: Nicole Bienert, Seth Cooke, Lindsey Dix, Lauren Eberly, Emma Federinko, Abigail Henning, Susanna Mills, Kara Smith, Marchelle “Marcy” Smucker, Ashley Struble. Penns Valley honors every student who graduates with a 4.0 GPA through high school, Dalton said.
MUSIC: The graduates walked down the football field to their seats to Giuseppe Verdi’s “Grand March.” That was followed by “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the Penns Valley alma mater and “For Good” from the Broadway musical “ Wicked“ — sung by the school’s choir.
HISTORICAL REFERENCE: Smucker, 18, referenced William Shakespeare in her part of the valedictorian group speech.
“What’s past is prologue,” she said.
POP CULTURE REFERENCE: Cooke, 18, referenced the movie “ Pitch Perfect.” In the opening scene, one character, Aubrey, who has anxiety, was onstage with a group of a cappella performers and vomited in front of the crowd. While Cooke didn’t exactly mimic that part, he said, “Think of it this way: You aren’t the one up here, speaking in front of hundreds of people, trying to imagine all of you in underwear, in order to prevent the first scene in ‘Pitch Perfect’ from happening on this stage, too.”
WORDS OF ADVICE: “Don’t take high school for granted,” Struble said.
“Don’t joke off,” Cooke added. “Have fun, for sure, but don’t joke around too much or you might regret not focusing and taking things seriously, later in life.”
A MEMORY: Henning said she’d never forget one of her favorite school projects, the “Bio 2 Bug Project.” She said each student participating had to collect 30 species of insects and pin them to different shapes.
WHAT THEY’LL MISS: David Fox, 18, of Coburn, said he’ll miss playing baseball and hanging with his baseball buddies and other friends from school. He’ll be taking a year off from school to work, save money and then go to a trade school next year, Fox said.
Adalea Brindel, 18, said she’s going to miss the community where she grew up.
“It’s bittersweet, but exciting, but I’m really going to miss this community,” she said. “It’s a small, friendly area.”
She’ll be attending Lycoming College in Williamsport, to study chemistry.
HOW THEY FELT: The general emotion was “bittersweet.”
Andrew Deardorff, 18, of Spring Mills, said he’ll be attending Lebanon Valley College for physical therapy, but he is a little nervous.
“You’re comfortable with right now and anxious to get out into the real world, but don’t know what the real world will bring,” he said.
“It’s bittersweet and surreal, because it hasn’t really hit me yet that its over,” added class President Angelo Nicosia, who will be at Shippensburg University in the fall.
HOW PARENTS FELT: For Lisa Miller, of Potters Mills, it was a special day, as she was able to be at graduation to see her daughter Brooke Miller walk the stage and also have her father, Marlan “Fat” Bowersox, honored among the Class of 1964 for the 50-year reunion.
“I’m so proud and excited to see her move onto the next level,” Miller said of her daughter, who will be attending Lock Haven University. “I’m actually so proud of the grads who come out of this school. The kids always seem to do really great things.”
Her son, Travis Miller, graduated in 2009 from Penns Valley and just completed his first year at Duquesne University for his master’s degree. He received his undergraduate degree from Penn State in forensic science.