Avon Grove graduates face the future

Photo by Chris Barber Members of Avon Grove High School's senior class enter the Carpenter Center for graduation ceremonies.

NEWARK, Del. -- A sea of maroon descended on the University of Delaware Carpenter Center as Avon Grove Seniors arrived for their graduation ceremony on Tuesday wearing caps and gowns of the school color.

Principal Tom Alexander greeted them, saying their fear and uncertainty of their early years had become a sense of accomplishment and pride. He said education takes time and work and urged them to put their skills to good use.

The student speakers referred often to their past and future experiences at the school.

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Salutatorian Anne Lertola said they had mastered skills other than doing well on tests -- skills like making it to the next class in four minutes or getting through the hall efficiently. For her part, she said, she felt, “wiser and weirder and more sure and certain of myself.”

“As we walk across the stage tonight, think what you’ve gotten from your years here,” she added.

Valedictorian Ginny Wells said their lives were actually starting a new beginning. “With each new problem we encounter, we will solve it,” she said.

Senior speaker Nicholas Pierce spoke in rhyme, saying “Education is the foundation of the field of dreams.”

“Here we are. Ahead of us are our lives,” he said.

Class President Ariel Pastore-Sebring urged her classmates to embrace differences in people, including their opinions and personalities.

She said she had many anxieties when she first started school – things like fearing missing the bus and not being able to find her classrooms. “Now it all seems like second nature,” she said.

“Do not forget we all face the same challenge – building a new future. Accept others and their ideas,” she said.

After her speech, she and the other class officers bestowed their mantles of leadership to the junior class offices.

The final speakers were Matt Jirak and Katie McLaughlin, who did a humorous back-and-forth routine commenting on their years at Avon Grove. They compared going through school to climbing a set of stairs. “We have reached the top step tonight,” Jirak said.

The ceremony also included several vocal musical numbers and playing of the processional and recessional marches by the Graduation Band.

The administrative staff and board members issued diplomas to the more than 450 members of the class.