Grad­u­a­tion Speeches, a Tale of Two Nicks

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt

Pottstown High School’s grad­u­a­tion on June 15 was a night of speeches given by Vale­dic­to­rian Ni­co­las Muriel, Salu­ta­to­rian Ni­cholas Irvin and Su­per­in­ten­dent Jeff Spara­gana. Read more online on Evan Brandt’s blog Dig­i­tal Notebook, evan-brandt.­u­a­tion-speeches-tale-of-two.html.

Vale­dic­to­rian Ni­co­las Muriel:

I think I speak for ev­ery­one when I say that this past week has felt tu­mul­tuous and fren­zied, and per­haps the weight of these events can be lost in the bom­bast. Now is an opportune time to re­flect on just what has led to this mo­ment. For most of us, it’s been at least 13 years of de­ter­mined, rig­or­ous work in the class­room. For many, even more has been ap­plied through hu­man­i­tar­ian, com­mu­nal, and ser­vice ac­tiv­i­ties pro­vided through the dis­trict. That’s not even get­ting into the recre­ational, yet both highly com­pet­i­tive and bond­ing, ac­tiv­i­ties in the sports field that a no­tice­able por­tion of our class have par­tic­i­pated in. To have reached this level is a tes­ta­ment to our growth and our char­ac­ter, and that is im­mensely ap­plaud­able.

Of course, now is also opportune to re­al­ize the point of no re­turn we are fac­ing in these next few min­utes. Re­gard­less of whether one is go­ing to a post- sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tion, the world of work, or the armed forces, the mo­ment you re­ceive a diploma is the mo­ment your life changes. With the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of your skills you re­ceive, you are men­tally en­dowed with the obli­ga­tion to uti­lize those skills to not only im­prove your life but also your com­mu­nity. Whether you travel 10 miles or across the world in your fu­ture en­deav­ors, the sen­si­bil­i­ties and logic you’ve de­vel-

oped in your school ca­reer will aid you in be­ing an ex­em­plary citizen in your life and hope­fully those you af­fect.

Upon re­al­iza­tion of what we can be, it would be po­lite, nigh nec­es­sary, to thank those who have helped us reach this point in our lives. The teach­ers are nat­u­rally the first con­sid­er­a­tion, and I can vouch that the vast ma­jor­ity are not only in­for­ma­tive, fair, in­ter­est­ing and con­struc­tively crit­i­cal, but also hu­mor­ous, re­lat­able, and most im­por­tantly joy­ously pur­posed in their work... There are also those in our per­sonal lives that help mo­ti­vate us to suc­ceed. ...

So, class of 2015, in the ex­cite­ment of to­day, do not ne­glect to take some time to take it all in: how much you’ve been able to ex­pe­ri­ence, the peo­ple who have helped you along, and what lies ahead. It’s an in­cred­i­ble honor to be speak­ing to you all to­day as your vale­dic­to­rian, and I wish the best of luck in your fu­ture en­deav­ors

Next up, of course, is salu­ta­to­rian Ni­cholas Irvin:

Good evening ev­ery­body. Class of 2015, we did it! We are fi­nally here, grad­u­a­tion day. Look­ing back on the past more than a decade, I seem to re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing like it was yesterday...

Now that we sit here on grad­u­a­tion day we can look back at the suc­cesses and ac­com­plish­ments we have cre­ated and re­ceived. Vince Lom­bardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” Al­most as sure as the world spin­ning, there has been a time where you have wanted to give up and stop car­ing, maybe you caught a case of se­niori­tis. While tonight it seems that all of our trou­bles are go­ing to wash away, more likely than not, you are go­ing to have a lot more prob­lems and strug­gles that will oc­cur, but don’t let these dis­cour­age you.

As I look back on the things that I have done in my life, one thing that re­ally sticks out to me is play­ing base­ball. I started play­ing when I was five years old. One big thing that I have learned over the years is that ev­ery­one fails, but it is play­ing base­ball that helped me re­al­ize these next few lessons. On the base­ball field, we are told that a player who suc­ceeds three out of ten times is a con­sid­ered a great player. Fail­ing a cou­ple times does not make you a bad per­son or a fail­ure, it means that you are hu­man. I have also been taught that there is more likely than not go­ing to be another chance. If you strike out, you can’t give up, you go back to the dugout and wait for the next turn to try again. There will be another chance to make up for the mis­take. Never give up be­cause the next chance will come and a time when you least ex­pect it...

I want to end with one fi­nal quote. Ralph Waldo Emer­son once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go in­stead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Keep this in mind as you go on in your life. Don’t be afraid to be dif­fer­ent. Put your­self out there. If you want some­thing go for it and don’t be afraid if some­one tells you that you can’t. Use their doubt as mo­ti­va­tion to fuel your fire and prove them wrong.

Once again thank you to ev­ery­one men­tioned and con­grat­u­la­tions class of 2015, I couldn’t have imag­ined go­ing through this ex­pe­ri­ence with another group of peo­ple. Thank you.

Fi­nally, we give you the re­marks of Su­per­in­ten­dent Jeff Spara­gana:

To the grad­u­ates: you are to be com­mended for achiev­ing this goal.

We are all very proud of you ac­com­plish­ments. Last evenings Bac­calau­re­ate cer­e­mony was a just won­der­ful trib­ute to the class of 2015...

Each year we tell the story of Pottstown High School and our out­stand­ing stu­dents, fam­i­lies, staff, and ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The proof of any suc­cess­ful school sys­tem is NOT mea­sured by the School Per­for­mance Pro­file, the Key­stone exam or a co-cur­ric­u­lar event.

The mea­sure of a suc­cess­ful school sys­tem is the end prod­uct – its se­nior grad­u­ates of which there are in this our 176th an­niver­sary year is over 19,000 strong. Our grad­u­ates have gone on to distin­guished ca­reers in many fields in­clud­ing – busi­ness, medicine, ed­u­ca­tion, science, the mil­i­tary, en­ter­tain­ment, and other as­pects of the Arts, ar­chi­tec­ture, en­gi­neer­ing, col­lege pro­fes­sors, the area of gov­ern­ment, law en­force­ment, just about ev­ery field imag­in­able has been ef­fected by our Grad­u­ates.

This event, to­day, is where the rub­ber meets the road! Re­mem­ber, to­day is an im­por­tant bench­mark in your jour­ney but none the less, just a bench­mark, and an im­por­tant one at that. How­ever, you should know that in this fast paced, dig­i­tal world of 2015 – 70% of post sec­ondary jobs to­day re­quire an as­so­ciate’s de­gree or equiv­a­lent to be em­ploy­able.

That is why I re­mind you that this evenings ac­com­plish­ment, although com­mend­able and cause for cel­e­bra­tion, is just a step in the process of your de­vel­op­ment, a page in the book, maybe a chap­ter, but clearly not the fi­nal chap­ter in your book of per­sonal growth and de­vel­op­ment through ed­u­ca­tion, and most def­i­nitely not the fi­nal step along your path to suc­cess in this life...

The Class of 2015 has earned many awards over the years in a wide va­ri­ety of cat­e­gories, but to­day I am here to share with ev­ery­one lis­ten­ing that the Class of 2015 has earned a grand to­tal of ap­prox­i­mately $2,565,825.00 in schol­ar­ships, grants and awards. This is the high­est to­tal of any grad­u­at­ing class in re­cent mem­ory.

I com­mend the Class of 2015 for your per­se­ver­ance, de­ter­mi­na­tion and ded­i­ca­tion to your­selves, your fam­i­lies and your school com­mu­nity. Class of 2015 - You make us all “Proud to be from Pottstown”!

Rea d more online at­grad­u­a­tion-speeches-ta­leof-two.html.


P.H.S. Class of 2015 pres­i­dent Brigid Ben­field; Ni­cholas Irvin, salu­ta­to­rian and Ni­co­las Muriel, vale­dic­to­rian. See more photos on A3.

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