HHS Class of 2019
With a deft turn of the tassel, all 167 members of the Honesdale High School (HHS) Class of 2019 transformed from students to alumni at Saturday’s Commencement Ceremony.
Lauded by friends and family, the 144th HHS Senior Class received their diplomas with wide grins lining their faces.
“It really seems like just yesterday that we were a group of nervous little freshmen who carried every single one of our books around with us all day,” said Class of 2019 President, Joseph Lukan, in his address to those assembled.
Lukan referred to graduation as “a bittersweet moment,” looking back at all the class had experienced and all the memories and friendships garnered along the way.
“The members of this class have proven to themselves and those around them that there is nothing we cannot accomplish when we put our minds and hearts into it. We’ve not been held back by limitations,” said Lukan.
“Several members of this class traveled to compete at states in both wrestling and softball.
“Several members of this class also organized the benefit for the Jonas family to raise $68,000.
“Several of my classmates have also given countless hours of service as volunteer firefighters.
“I’ve seen this class come together in times of happiness...and in times of sadness, but no matter the circumstances, or the challenging task at hand, this is a class that has never been restrained by its limitations.”
Lukan encouraged his classmates looking forward to embrace challenge and push beyond their fears and limitations.
“Keep that same fire that I know is in each and every one of your hearts,” he said.
In a similar vein, 2019 Salutatorian Brandon Lawson encouraged his peers to face adversity head on.
“There’s a reason people say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” he said. “You have to be able to make the most out of everything that comes your way.
“Having the ability to take a challenge and turn it into a positive, viable
experience will benefit you greatly as you create your own path.
“If you improvise, adapt and overcome, you’ll set yourself up for great success.”
The Salutatorian further noted, “...you will occasionally fail despite giving maximum effort,” reminding his class that when that happens to keep going.
In trying times when life feels oppressive, Lawson said, “... remember what former heavyweight champion boxer Rocky Balboa said, ‘It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’ ” Likewise drawing attention to the struggles life can present, Class Valedictorian, Jacob Adams encouraged his classmates to face adversity with courage and moral strength.
Summarizing the biblical story of Esther, wife of Xerxes I whose courage stopped the execution of Jewish practitioners in the Persian Empire, Adams stated, “..life is sort of like a maze. You can try to navigate the twists and turns, the ups and downs, but in the end, you may never know where life may take you.
“There is something, however, you can be completely sure about, objective truth and justice exist in this world. And we as morally responsible human beings are charged with supporting, defending and maintaining justice and truth all the days of our lives.”
Adams reminded his classmates they will find themselves accumulating more and more power and influence in the world as time moves on and they continue to grow as adults and professionals.
“As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben once said, ‘With great power, there must also come great responsibility,’ ” he said. “The more influence we have, the greater duty we have to stand for truth, for decency, for freedom.”
The Valedictorian further cited Winston Churchill and German Pastor Martin Niemöller amid the chaos of World War II to encourage his classmates to reflect on who they plan to be leaving the halls of Honesdale.
“In this time of tranquility, when we are all looking to leave our former lives behind, we must all decide what kind of people we want to be: The person who does nothing in the face of evil, or the one who is courageous no matter the cost.”
The Monday preceding graduation, the Class of 2019 were honored with awards and scholarships totaling more than $6 million of institutional awards and $150,000 local awards.
Awarded at commencement, Jacob Adams and Brandon Lawson received the Ernest W. Lemnitzer Memorial Scholarship and the Anna R. and Walter Schoyer Scholarship respectively.
Addressing the class, Wayne Highland Superintendent, Gregory Frigoletto reminded the graduates to take a minute to breathe before making important decisions.
“My challenge to the graduates as they move forward making decisions is two-fold,” said Frigoletto. “First, embrace the changes in your world. Be cutting edge and forward thinking, revel in and grow with the amazing opportunities that lie ahead...
“At the same time, however, I encourage you to see the value of stopping and thinking. I encourage you to pause from time to time...As you move forward and embrace the future, when faced with important decisions, sleep on it. Remember always that patience truly is a virtue and that good things do come to those who wait.”