Octorara graduates determined to use their learned tools for success

Photo by Chris Barber Members of the Class of 2014 applaud one of their fellow-speakers at commencement on Friday.
Photo by Chris Barber Students help each other with their mortar boards prior to graduation at Octorara on Friday.

By CHRIS BARBER

cbarber@21st-centurymedia.com

WEST FALLOWFIELD -- The graduates of Octorara High School voiced their determination to make good use of the educational tools they received and to bounce back strongly from adversity.

Principal Scott Rohrer greeted the 181 members of class of 2014 from the auditorium stage on Friday night with advice to reach out for their goals. “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it,” he said.

He told the students they are not failures if they change direction in life, and that a positive attitude can raise them to success. “Sometimes we look at the closed door so long that we don’t see the open one,” he said.

Referring to the high school that he oversees, he said, “Don’t forget where you came from; this is a good place.”

Valedictorian Elizabeth Lapp said at Octorara she and her classmates have had opportunities they would not otherwise have elsewhere. She added that her membership on the softball team has been particularly meaningful for her.

She also spoke of opportunities taken and missed. She said some people shy away from a first job “because it looks like overalls and takes work.”

“The same work that helped you get here will get you through life. Everything we’ve done up to know has prepared us for what lies ahead,” she said.

Speaker Kendra Sweitzer chose the theme “Be Yourself” for her address. She said that phrase is vague and can lead to people assuming a stereotypical persona. “Stereotypes are designed to keep us in neat little boxes. … Challenge yourself, to make new boxes or go outside of them,” she said.

Speaker Rosendo Lopez said he has found that in life he has the freedom to choose, and that will determine his future. “In order to become what you want required a strong work ethic. The skills and experience we gained here will help us keep up with the changes in the work. … Forge your own future and take responsibility for yourself,” he said,” he said.

Class President Amelia Ventura said her future and that of her classmates is built on the relationships they have formed. “Every individual we meet will have the power to change our futures,” she said.

In that connection, she also thanked her teachers and parents for their nurturing and dedication. She received applause when she asked all the parents and relatives of graduates to stand up.

A number of students were given accolades for their achievements during their years at Octorara including National Honor Society, National Art Society, National Technical Society, advanced placement skills, Homeland Security and Protective Services Academy, top 10 students and entering the military.

Kaylyn Kerr was named the top technical student.

The Octorara Band provided live music for the ceremony, but for the sake of space they played from the adjacent music suite and had their image projected on a large screen on the stage.

The commencement ceremony on Friday night was moved inside from its originally scheduled location on the athletic field to the auditorium because of hovering pop-up showers. The action was well advised, as the rain held off as folks arrived and left, but while they were inside for the festivities, security officers in the lobby reported there had been some severe downpours.