The weather was on the side of the Class of 2014. Months ago, Philipsburg-Osceola’s senior class lobbied hard for graduation to be held outside, on the green grass of Memorial Field, with plenty of room for parents, family and friends to look on and celebrate the culmination of 13 years of lunchboxes, spelling lists, math tests and homework, homework, homework. Mother Nature cooperated, and commencement was perfect.
NUMBER OF GRADUATES: 129
WHERE: American Legion Memorial Stadium
COLORS: Navy blue and gold
VALEDICTORIAN AND SALUTATORIAN: Timothy Kirk Eason took the top spot, giving his speech a patriotic flair as he exhorted his classmates to be their best for their country.
“America, she needs us. ... I believe every person has the potential to do great things.”
Runner-up Sarah Anne Chorle told the class that their diplomas were keys to the future, different for each of them.
“Find your key. Find your door,” she said.
MUSIC: The class song was pitch-perfect for the occasion, “Don’t You Forget About Me.” But the songs that were performed set a very different tone. Musical theater diva Hunter Lynn Nicholson opened the ceremonies with “A Change in Me,” from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” a song that spoke of how experiences turn people into something they weren’t before.
Classical singer Natalie Magee Conte ended things with the dramatic, operatic “Time to Say Goodbye,” made famous by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, a final farewell to her school and her classmates.
WORDS OF ADVICE: Superintendent Gregg Paladina told the class not to let others’ perceptions of them hold them back, like the college professor who told him he would never be a good teacher, or the high school teacher who told him he would never do well in college. More than that, he encouraged them not to let their own ideas about what they can and can’t do get in their way.
WHAT THEY WILL MISS: “Athletics. It was my favorite thing here. Football, wrestling, baseball. ... It’s something I’m always going to love throughout my life,” said Nicholas Daniel Grey, who will go on to play football at Juniata College.
HOW THEY FELT: The excitement of the class was unmistakable. P-O graduations usually end with a solemn procession that deteriorates into a party in the parking lot, but the Class of 2014 didn’t make it that far.
Principal Robin Stewart acknowledged, “I don’t see this becoming a traditional recessional, so I wish you all safe travels home.”
WHERE DO THEY GO FROM HERE: Aaron David Mason — whose father, David Mason, a 1976 alumnus, received the P-O Learners, Today’s Leaders award at the ceremony — goes on to study business at Thiel. Victoria Nicole Reams is excited to start work once she gets her cosmetology license. Gary Lane Ralston is enlisting in the Army and hopes to be at basic training before the end of the summer.
CAP AND GOWN STYLE: The boys wore blue and the girls wore white, but there was definitely more flair than that. Like Tiffany Lucille Bertothy’s cowboy boots, or the lime green laces on Preston Tyler Eirich’s sneakers, or the stars and stripes Kaleb Jyles Guy boasted across his mortarboard.
PHOTO OP: Audrey Jean Wawrynovic knows how to make an entrance, with hair as bright as blue raspberry cotton candy. She also knows just the right time for a pic, as she stopped traffic on the stage to take an impromptu cellphone selfie.