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NEWARK, Del. -- Critical and independent thinking was on the minds of the student speakers at the Avon Grove graduation on Monday. One by one they urged their classmates in the University of Delaware Carpenter Center to make up their own minds and live their own lives.
By the time the academic procession began at 7 p.m., the hall was packed with friends and family, cheering on their graduates and taking their pictures.
Principal Tom Alexander told his 413 seniors clad in maroon caps and gowns, “The apprehension you came here with has turned to confidence and pride. … Your duty is to carry the principles you have learned her into your lives.”
He introduced class salutatorian Corinne Kramer who recalled the time in third grade when she was asked to spell out a word and was convinced by a classmate to change the letters enough to utter something inappropriate. “Don’t succumb to peer pressure,” she said.
Senior speaker Anthony Constantini chose the theme “You Only Live Once” for his address.
He said in everyone’s life there will be a last day. “Do you want to say ‘This is the life someone else chose for me’?” he asked.
“There is no one single way. A good life doesn’t follow one path. Don’t let someone else’s opinion become your own,” he added.
Class Valedictorian Michael LeClaire said he preferred to recite a poem entitled, “Directions for Resisting the SAT.”
He said that with graduation the time has come to take the last of the standardized tests, and he quoted from the poem actions like showing up late and not brining sharpened pencils.
Class President Lauren Gray paid particular homage to her late grandfather and said she will look up to him for the rest of her life. She also presided over the passing of the hoods from the Class of 2012 officers to the officers of the Class of 2013.
Following the speeches, Alexander noted that this year’s seniors had earned more than $86,000 in award money and more than $1 Million in college scholarships.
Prior to handing out diplomas, Senior Assistant Principal Michael Berardi advised the class to work at something they enjoy, take responsibility for their actions and “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mother proud.”
Throughout the ceremony there were interludes of music from student musicians including “Imagine” sung by Devon Pankiw accompanied by Michael Chipper, “Don’t Stop” by the Senior Ensemble and the singing of the Alma Mater by the High School Golden Chorale.
The Avon Grove High School Graduation Band played the processional “Pomp and Circumstance” as well as the recessional “Alamo (march)”.