EAST NOTTINGHAM - The 133rd annual commencement ceremonies for the Oxford Area High School represented a time of personal change for the 255 graduating students and their families.
Behind the scenes, as the seniors found their spots in line before the procession there was tension as well as joy. “It’s nerve wracking,” said senior Amanda Elberson.
Students were taking pictures with their phones to capture their final moments of High School for memories they can hang on to, yet eagerly waiting for it all to be over. “It feels good to move on to the next part of our lives,” senior Scott Carter said.
Interim Principal Scott Farina was on the podium with the class officers for a final hurrah. When underclassmen return in September it will be newly-appointed principal Christopher Dormer at the helm for the high school.
Most student awards are presented at an earlier assembly, but a few of the most important awards are saved for commencement.
Farina presented the George and Georgiana Jackson Scholarship Trust to Shannon Wright, Shelby Wright and Eric Farkas. The scholarships are given students who intend to go on further schooling in the field of education.
Farina also addressed the graduating class with remarks that had a physic’s flavor. He referred to Albert Einstein’s childhood years when he was given a compass that inspired him to want to learn why the needle pointed north. True education goes beyond the realm of classroom work. “The most important lessons can not written down or turned in for a grade,” he told the students, closing by wishing “Luck, success and happiness to the Class of 2013.”
Also making his final presentation of diplomas was District Superintendent Raymond Fischer, who is officially retiring next month. He will be replaced by David Woods who comes to Oxford after serving as superintendent of the Indian River School District in Lackawanna County.
Fischer, who will continue to be involved in the district as a board member of the Oxford Education Foundation, presented the Outstanding Seniors awards to Meghan Brumbley and Dalton Wolfe.
Fischer took the inspiration for his speech from the words of Dr. Norman Vincent Peal, and his Power of Positive Thinking. “Go at life with abandon. Give it all you’ve got and life will give all it has to you,” he said advising the students not to waste a minute of the future and to “...never lose the appreciation of life and learning.”
The commencement ceremonies had a streamed down simplicity this year with music students in the brass ensemble providing welcoming music for the audience in the high school gymnasium. There were no outside guest speakers or celebrities, with the evening instead focusing on the students.
The valedictorian of the Class of 2013 is Lauren Thomson. In her speech, Thomson shied away from the normal clichés. “Best years of your life....no, no, no no,” she said to her classmates laughter. Instead she used a fortune cookie style message to send off her fellow seniors. “Big things coming in future - only a matter of time.”
Salutatorian Anne Nusbaum asked her classmates to remember, as they leave high school, that there are always choices to be made and there is always the ability to make the right choice. “The choices you make decide what you are,” she said encouraging everyone to be kind to the people they come across. “Treat everyone you meet as someone you love, but will never see again after today.”