Students lauded for academic excellence

Congratulations to Serena Durdach, Alexa Yatwa and Abigail Panza (left to right) for their academic rigor and successful high school careers. [PHOTO BY DAVID MAZZENGA.]

The Wayne Highlands School District (WHSD) Board of Directors extolled before friends, family and staff members the merits of three exemplary seniors at their regular business meeting held April 24 in the district office.

Recognized first that evening, Serena Durdach is the daughter of Mary Richardson of Honesdale.

Durdach ranks among the top 15 percent of the class of 2018, awarded a place on the Honor Roll and National Honor Society (NHS) for her academic excellence.

Noting her gratitude for being recognized, Durdach stated, “Over the past four years, I have dedicated myself to my studies to make the most out of my time here and I would like to thank all of the people who helped me along the way.”

Specifically, she named her mother’s support to carry her through and the knowledge she learned from her teachers, especially history teacher Mr. Arnone, “...because, they have equipped me with the knowledge I need not only for college but beyond.”

Aside from her scholastic achievement, Durdach has found success on the junior varsity and varsity soccer fields, winning three letters for her efforts.

“I would like to thank my soccer coaches, Coach Eisele and Coach Brown, for always pushing me to reach my goals and teaching me the importance of teamwork and dedication,” she said. Durdach has also volunteered her time as a member of St. John’s Youth Group and for two years as a member of the Honesdale High School Interact Club.

Post graduation, Durdach plans to attend Mount Saint Mary College in pursuit of a degree in Information Technology.

Next recognized that Tuesday was Abigail Panza, daughter of Dominic and Denise Panza of Bethany.

Panza has also found great scholastic success, garnering a seat on the Honor Roll, NHS, and among the top 15 percent of her class.

She is also a member of the Science Olympiad Team, and has represented the school at the invitational, regional and state levels.

Panza thanked all her teachers for pushing her to achieve high marks, calling special attention to “...Mr. Jurkowski, my Anatomy teacher, for always making me laugh when I need it and for helping me develop academic and social skills that extend beyond the walls of the classroom.”

Athletically, Panza has earned one letter in soccer, having played on both the varsity and junior varsity teams.

She has also served as a varsity track & field statistician and volunteered to help the Special Olympics skiing team.

Also fond of riding horses, Panza thanked her riding teacher, Kim Gumble, who “...has shown me what it’s like to trust, take care of and bond with an animal five times my size, which has not only shaped me as an individual but has given me character and has shown me the true meaning of teamwork.”

Extracurricularly, Panza is a member of the Interact Club and has served on the Student Council as a Homeroom Representative and the Class of 2018 Treasurer.

Panza also contributes to the community as a volunteer firefighter.

After she graduates, Panza plans to attend Long Island University Post to study Business Management, concentrating in Finance.

While there, Panza plans to ride horses at the Division II level.

Expressing thanks to her parents for all they’ve done, Panza stated, “My parents have pushed me, taught me, and loved me unconditionally these past 18 years and I am so grateful for them.”

Third recognized, Alexa Yatwa is the daughter of Robert and Lisa Yatwa of Honesdale.

Yatwa likewise expressed immense gratitude for her parents’ support through the years, “They have been my biggest supporters throughout all my life. I wouldn’t be where I’m standing if it weren’t for them …” Also among the top 15 percent of her class, Yatwa has been lauded for her excellence on the Honor Roll and NHS.

Beyond classroom academics, Yatwa has also pushed herself scholastically in the American Mathematics Contest and as a member of the Science Olympiad Team at the invitational, regional and state levels.

She has served as a Student Council Memberat- Large and is the Interact Club Secretary.

Additionally, Yatwa was part of the Make-Up Crew and Pit Band for the allschool musical.

“I am thankful for all the opportunities we have at the school, including the music wing that we have,” said Yatwa, urging others with even a slight interest in band or chorus to join the music program.

“And also, I am very grateful for the interact club that we have cause it’s great experience. I love going out, playing with the little kids, making their days, and going out and doing my part in the community,” she added.

Athletically, Yatwa has played on the junior varsity softball team.

Yatwa showed gratitude for her teachers, especially Mrs. Kromko who, is “... always looking out for me and the students through academics and just personally in our lives,” and Mrs. Vosberg who’s “always been there for me” and “ never failed to make me smile.”

Recognizing the students’ efforts, Director Heather Stephens lauded the pristine representation of “such awesome girl power” stating, “All of your accomplishments inside and outside the classroom demonstrate what excellent students you are and what shining stars we have in our district.”

Encouraging the student trio to continue to strive for greatness, Stephens concluded, “These are exciting times in your lives and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of you.”

District Superintendent Greg Frigoletto also commended the students with the encouragement of a standing ovation for them.

The superintendent recounted that parents’ expressions during senior recognitions are often the best part of the evening: “When I look at the faces of the parents, the emotion and the pride that I see in your faces is something that is ... really special.”


Article by The Wayne Independent Writers

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