Performing “The Star Spangled Banner” on trumpet, Lukas Bojt opened Brandywine Heights Area High School’s Class of 2023 Commencement on Wednesday, May 31.
To the 118 graduating seniors seated in Kutztown University’s Keystone Hall, high school Principal Matthew J. Dziunycz thanked them for their effort, hard work, and resilience.
“You have shown great maturity and responsibility when faced with a variety of challenges, and you have overcome them unified and together.”
Dziunycz has known the people in this class since their very first day in middle school in sixth grade, which was his first day in the district. He said this class has navigated some very unique and complicated times during their high school experience, with no year looking or feeling quite the same for one reason or another.
“Our Class of 2023 demonstrated above all else spirit and compassion. Regardless of circumstance, adversity, challenge or problem, the students seated before you have been so positive, so spirited and so supportive of their school and one another,” he said. “This group of seniors has worked tirelessly to help not just create but support a school environment that is welcoming, positive and safe for all.”
“I cannot speak highly enough about the sheer number of leaders that will be emerging from this class, and how reassuring that is to me knowing that our future will be impacted by these young people,” he said.
Jade Hartline said in her senior student address that Brandywine has taught the Class of 2023 so much more than academics.
“These skills — these values of Brandywine — kindness, honesty, friendship and trust are the pieces, the parts, that will get us what we never had and guide us in experiencing the things we have yet to do,” Hartline said. “So far, we learned what it means to be a good friend, when to listen, when to speak, and how to work as a team. We know how to think critically and fight for what we believe in. We learned the importance of failure and how it is the key to success. All of which are necessary to navigating the real world.”
She said that when faced with new or tough situations, they should listen to the Thomas Jefferson quote that is their class motto: “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.”
“Sometimes to get through those tough situations, you are going to have to do something you never imagined doing and that’s OK. Nothing is impossible unless you don’t try. If you are not given the right opportunity, create your own. Never be afraid to ask for help and listen to people who have more wisdom and experiences than you because oftentimes they are right,” she said.
Hartline’s parents always taught her to “go out there, put your big girl pants on, and show the world what you are made of.”
“This message has helped me face challenges in my own life so I encourage each one of you to do the same,” she said.
Hartline offered a list of rules of life: always smile, always be kind, never give up, don’t compare yourself to others, avoid negativity, make peace with your past and take care of your body and your mind. Her final rule: “Get out there, enjoy life and try something new because who knows, you might like it.”
In her senior reflection speech, London Cerullo said growing up in a small town could be described as a blessing and a curse.
“I am beyond thankful for the community that’s made us who we are today,” Cerullo said. “We started with wearing light-up sneakers and dinosaur pajamas, and soon we will be wearing suits, work clothes, or uniforms.”
Quoting Taylor Swift, she continued: “It’s almost like we could feel time moving, Look at us right now, we couldn’t wait to sit in these chairs, in these caps, in these gowns. In eighth grade, the seniors looked so old and mature, and the high school looked big enough to get lost in. Now, we are the role models we’ve been looking up to our whole lives.
“It’s a bittersweet moment, realizing you made it to the point where 10-year-old you wanted to be. I am proud of all of you, and I am so happy you’re here. Graduating is such a great accomplishment, as it means this journey has come to an end, but it is an end that is leading to hundreds of new beginnings, and you all will do amazing.”
Brandywine Heights Superintendent Andrew M. Potteiger recognized the Class of 2023’s character, noting the more than 7,500 volunteer hours logged by this class alone.
“Sure, the first 25 hours were a graduation requirement, but you took it the next step to find the importance of helping others. That is a testament to who you are as individuals willing to go the extra mile to make a difference. The importance of character cannot be overstated.”
In a world that focuses on external rewards and actions, character serves as the foundation of our beliefs, actions and internal drive to do the right thing, Potteiger said.
“This class has demonstrated resilience and displays a strong sense of character forged by your personal actions; outcomes we see externally but also the decisions you make when no one else is looking,” he said.
Individually and collectively, the graduates coordinated 5K runs, created a book swap and started a clothing drive.
“These accomplishments serve as a reminder of the positive impact you have made on Brandywine and our community,” Potteiger said. “I hope you maintain that focus remaining individuals of strong character that have been fostered by your parents, family, experiences in life and tough decisions you have faced throughout your years, and will undoubtedly continue to face as you embrace new challenging obstacles ahead of you.”
Source: Berkshire mont