WEST PITTSTON — A cool evening fell upon Anthony “Jake” Sobeski Stadium as the sun began to set and hundreds of people piled into the bleachers.
With the comfortable weather, it was easy to think of this night as a football night in September but, much to the delight of members of the Wyoming Area High School Class of 2018, it was a June evening — their last evening as high school students.
The graduation ceremony began with class president Addison Orzel, who welcomed all in attendance.
She called it the day they’d all been waiting for since they were in kindergarten, and also mentioned that, despite what others say, this is not their first steps into the real world.
“The real world is everything we experienced, and we will always be a part of it,” Orzel said. “We now have the opportunity to take knowledge, memories and love into the next stage and share them with others. If there is one thing I wish, it would be that the excitement and joy each of us feels right now never fades away.”
KristiAnn Skok took the stage next to read the class poem, “Holding Hands.” Following her was class valedictorian Gwen Glatz, who assured everyone there would be no repeat of last year.
“Don’t worry; I promise I won’t go rogue,” she said, referring to one of last year’s commencement speakers who went off script before his microphone was shut off by administrators.
Glatz strayed away from the same old speech of recalling her own memories of high school, and instead listed some of the memories her classmates shared with her.
She encouraged everyone to look back on their time and think of a memory.
“Now, with the sun beginning to set on our final moments here at Wyoming Area, I want you all to take the time to think of one good memory,” Glatz said. “Something you can look back on five, 10, 20 years from now and still remember the joke that was old and feel the abs forming in your stomach from laughing so hard.”
Salutatorian Dylan Melberger took the stage and told everyone to remember what they learned during their time at Wyoming Area.
“It’s important to take what you’ve learned from all the good times at Wyoming Area and apply it as you go onto the next chapter of your life,” he said. “The good times and learning experiences you had here at Wyoming Area will help you down the road more times than you’ll know. Cherish the good times you’ve had, and the good times you will have going forward.”
After the class song “Bittersweet Moments” was performed by Olivia Williams and Genevieve Federici, superintendent Janet Serino compared graduating to the movie, “The Wizard of Oz.”
She told the students they’ll meet diverse characters along their journey and, as Dorothy wanted to go home, Serino said the students might feel the same way.
“Tonight, you must never forget all of those who are here supporting you,” Serino said. “They’ll continue to be part of your home. Just as Dorothy repeated the words ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,’ I ask that you put those words on your heart. You must always know that your family is your home, Wyoming Area is your home, your community is your home. You’re always part of that home, no matter where you go and what you do.”
School board president Beth Gober-Mangan gave the final speech, telling students to hold onto kindness wherever they go because they may not know what someone else is going through.
“Class of 2018, as you continue this journey in this universe, there will be many occasions where you will become irritated, frustrated, or even angry with another human,” she said. “For your family, take a breath and try to hold onto kindness. The woman blocking the shopping aisles with her cart, or the child who can’t sit still in the waiting room at the dentist office, or the driver who goes too slow when you’re late for work; for these strangers, pause and try to hold onto kindness.”
Following Gober-Mangan’s speech, the high school chorus sang “Remember Me” from the Disney movie “Coco” and then, one by one, students received their diplomas.
With diplomas in hand, they eagerly made their way onto the football field and threw their caps into the air. Their last evening as Wyoming Area High School students had concluded.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher