School: Penns Valley
Graduating class: 2016
Number of grads: 84, the smallest graduating class since they started kindergarten in 2003, Superintendent Brian Griffith said.
Colors: Blue and white. The female graduates wore white caps and gowns, while the male grads wore blue caps and gowns. Graduates had a blue and white tassel hanging from their caps with a gold 2016 medallion. Students in the National Honor Society had a gold sash around their neck, and students who were part of student government had blue and white honor cords.
Principal: Dustin Dalton. This was his first freshman class to graduate.
Where: The football field at Penns Valley Area High School
Student speakers: Keith Griffith, Destiny Andrus and Margaret Dunkelberger
Keynote speakers: Brian Griffith, who added song lyrics from Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun.” Dalton and Class of 1966 member Dennis Bressler also spoke.
Valedictorian: Andrus, Dunkelberger and Keith Griffith. Valedictorians were students who maintained a 4.0 GPA through high school.
Graduation moments: A moment of silence was held in memory of Nick Castellano, a Penns Valley Area student who died last year. Castellano would have graduated this year. The class also donated a bouquet of blue and white carnations to his family. As the grads walked to their assigned seat, they put a flower in a vase.
The Class of 1966 was also recognized. Many members of the class were invited on the field during graduation, while class member Bressler gave a short speech that he called, “an honor to do so.”
Student memories: Mackenzie Ironside, 18, of Rebersburg, said there is a lot that she’ll miss about high school, but more so than anything will be participating in school sports. “I’ve been playing basketball since I’ve been in fourth grade and it’s been such a big part of my life,” she said. “Whether it’s with basketball or just anything in general, there is a lot of support from the community because it’s a small area. Everyone typically knows you, and it won’t be like that forever.” Ironside will be attending Penn College in the fall for physician assistant school, but said Penns Valley Area was a big part in preparing her for the next step. “The teachers are awesome,” she said. “They help you in every way possible.”
Graduation memory: Keith Griffith said graduation is one of the most special times in his life. “It’s a major accomplishment because of a culmination of dedication and hard work,” he said. “It’s a real thing, and it’s the last time we’ll probably all be together.” Griffith will attend Penn State for engineering.
Tips for underclassmen: Graduate Corby Woodring, 18, of Potters Mills, said he’ll most miss hanging with friends, and encourages underclassmen not to take those moments for granted. “Don’t wish the time away because it goes by fast,” he said. “Cherish those moments.”