SCOTT – Seniors swathed in blue and red took to the stage on June 9, 2017 for one of the biggest events of their young lives: graduation.
Senior class secretary Philip Podhyski led the class in the salute to the flag and the chorus sang the National Anthem.
James Pivirotto, secondary principal, was Master of Ceremony for the evening.
“You guys are an amazing class. This class earned over 5.5 million dollars in scholarship offers collectively this year.” said to raucous applause. “You're an amazing class for many other reasons as well.”
This class represented Pivirotto's first students he met at Lakeland when he entered the district six years ago as a new administrator.
“Go forth and set the world on fire,” said Pivirotto. “Leave Lakeland tonight, continue to challenge and allow yourselves to be challenged and in doing so, make the world outside a better place like you did here at Lakeland.”
Next, several students had their chance to say their piece.
“It's amazing to think that after 12 years we're almost to a close,” David Hudak, senior class vice president stated.
Hudak thanked the assembled parents, teachers and administration for all contributing to the students success.
“At the time it seemed like forever, like 2017 was just a number, we kept putting aside and would never come,” Hudak said. “Now it's here. We made it Tonight is the start of a new beginning. Just remember, being a Chief is branded into all of us.”
Hudak thanked his classmates for their combined experiences and memories before he wished them good luck on their journeys forward.
Hannah Amico, salutatorian, was next to speak, showing great pride in her classmates and school.
“Class of 2017, celebrate today not only because you worked years for this achievement, but because you've grown so much during your time at Lakeland.”
She emphasized the bonds made at high school that should be retained.
Amico reminded her peers that in times of loneliness, they should remember they have each other to lean on. Friendships that began at Lakeland could continue, but they should also feel open to meeting and befriending new people.
“You have made an enormous impact on all those around you,” she said. “I ask that you stay close with those that honestly care about you. Continue to make memories wholeheartedly and never forget those who supported you.”
The program included a special section of music performed by Lakeland Chorus and Concert Band.
The graduating seniors played and sang with their fellows for one last time, decked in their caps and gowns, wowing the audience with all that they had learned musically during their time in the school district.
Ty Nichols, Valedictorian spoke after the band and chorus performances.
“The worth of our actions isn't measured by the number of people watching.”
His example was how astronauts who travel to the moon might be famous, but all the people involved with the construction of the components of the rocket were integral to that success
“As we leave Lakeland tonight, we should remember that we are all unique. We shouldn't focus on being recognized by others if doing so causes us to become something we're not.”
Each class chooses their person to make remarks during the ceremony. The Class of 2017 chose school counselor Larissa Valonis.
Valonis seemed the perfect person for the job of addressing students she's known through their triumphs and troubles of high school.
“This group has demonstrated that they are resilient,” said Valonis. “They have persevered and they have overcome their own personal hardships in their own ways.”
Her speech showed appreciation for all those who supported these students on their path to graduation, and also place importance on the idea of finding good in adversity.
“Growing from our own experiences is so critical in this life,” Valonis explained. “All of us have made mistakes. It's something we can't fear or avoid.”
Superintendent Scott Jeffery spoke before presentation of the diplomas, emphasizing what these students should focus on as they take their first steps into life after high school.
“First one is, stay positive. You can trust with faith and an optimistic attitude, anything is possible,” said Jeffery. “The next one is to get back up. The next time you fail, remember that that's not meant to define you, that's meant to refine you. The last one is enjoy the ride.”
The superintendent reminded the students that they would always be a part of the school. Chiefs, forever.