Schuylkill Valley Area High School faculty led the Class of 2022 across the stadium field for the processional to “Pomp and Circumstance” during Commencement on June 9.
“I am in awe of all your accomplishments. Your class has overcome many challenges in your school career, but you are here today with so much to be proud of,” said Schuylkill Valley High School Principal Jenny L. Rexrode to the Class of 2022.
While she hopes the graduates continue to have people in their lives who tell them this, Rexrode wants most for the Class of 2022 to be proud of themselves.
“No longer should you be defined by what you did or did not do in high school. Who are you when no one else is looking? Take pride in that person and do it to the fullest,” advised Rexrode.
“Be proud of yourself and who you are. Do those things that you always wanted to do but were scared to do because someone may have judged you for that,” she said. “Chase those dreams you have.”
Commencement featured speeches and honor solo performances that included “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King performed by Sharon Borkey accompanied by Kim Makosch, “Vienna” by Billy Joel performed by Emma Ertel and Emma Walsh, and “Finding Wonderland” from the musical “Wonderland” performed by Mara Nagle accompanied by Makosch.
While ranked second in her class, salutatorian Anna Kate Gwiazdowski spoke first, prior to the valedictorian speech during Commencement.
“The number 2 has haunted me for my entire life,” said Gwiazdowski, the second child born in the second month of the year, who was always getting second place: spelling bee runner-up twice, No. 2 on her field hockey jersey, named All-State second team, and accepted into her second-choice university.
A highly competitive person from a competitive family, Gwiazdowski said Monopoly is banned from their house for a reason, so, of course, she wanted to win valedictorian, “We live in a culture obsessed with winning.”
With a new perspective on winning credited to a debate over the rules of Uno, she said there is no first place in life.
“There are no absolute winners or absolute losers, yet I see this attitude in our country, our state and even in our community. There’s no compromise anymore, only a winning side and a losing side,” said Gwiazdowski.
“If the past 13 years have taught me anything, it is that life doesn’t end when you lose and it doesn’t change when you win. At the end of the ceremony, we will all be graduates of Schuylkill Valley. Your final class rank or GPA does not determine who you are or who you will become,” said Gwiazdowski. “You get the chance to determine that for yourself.”
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” said Valedictorian Sara Motz, quoting Winnie the Pooh.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to attend Schuylkill Valley the past 13 years, especially with this extraordinary group of graduates that I’ve had the pleasure of growing up with,” said Motz.
Schuylkill Valley is more than just a school district, she said.
“It’s a second home, a place where we have cultivated relationships, grown together as people and many of us have had days spending more time here together than at home,” she said.
Motz will miss the little moments and the people of SV the most.
“While we may have had some road bumps along the way, with COVID disrupting our sophomore and junior years, I know that all of us can recall both hilarious moments and beautiful memories about our SV experience,” she said.
Motz told the crowd that she is standing before them as valedictorian not because of good grades or spending all her time on homework, but because she surrounded herself with amazing people who cared enough to support her.
“As Winnie the Pooh expressed, I cannot fathom how after tonight, I’m going to say goodbye to this place, these people and these memories,” said Motz. “But as the letter board in Mrs. (Megan) French’s (social studies) room says, ‘This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.’”
Advice for the Class of 2022
Superintendent Cathy L. Taschner said the graduates are an unbelievably talented class.
“You are the future of our community and you are the future of our country,” Taschner said. “We are confident that your contributions will change the future of everyone here tonight and I am confident that it will be for the better.”
Her advice is that being successful is built on more than just talent, emphasizing the importance of effort and never quiting.
“Persistence is often the difference between those who accomplish their dreams and change their world and those who don’t,” said Taschner.
She also said successful people find their passion.
“As you move forward, dream big, dare greatly and pursue your passion,” said Taschner. “When you do, you will inspire others to do the same.”
Taschner told the graduates that they are at the starting line of their story of the great things they will accomplish.
“No matter how far you go, you will never travel alone. The Schuylkill Valley School District will always be here for you and always celebrate your success and will always be here with open arms to welcome you home.”
Source: Berkshire mont