WHS Class of 2013 told their 'mark will remain'
The Whitehall High School Class of 2013 received a generous dose of encouragement by student speakers, the principal and the superintendent during the school's 109th commencement Thursday.
Excitement built up among the 370 graduating seniors as Valedictorian Jason Rex and Salutatorian Codi Reynolds led the maroon and gold robed young men and women down the aisle at Stabler Arena on the Lehigh University campus.
The WHS band played the ceremonial "Pomp and Circumstance." As the procession of the graduates concluded, the school Chorale gave a riveting rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner," drawing a rousing applause from the large crowd of parents, family and friends in attendance.
The Coplay High School and Whitehall High School Class of 1963 was present and the names of each graduate was read. It was in 1964 that the borough and township school districts merged.
Rex noted in his address the graduating seniors set an indelible mark in the high school's long history of achievements.
"I am excited to discuss some of the accomplishments of this wonderful graduating Class of 2013," said Rex.
"When I first was asked to speak, I knew immediately I would like to talk about our class' achievements. Across all fields – academics, athletics, and the arts – we have done great things," he said.
"Before I speak about our positive memories, I must admit, we had our flaws just like any other class," he said. "We probably talked back a little too much. We definitely caused our class advisors a little too much stress, and every assembly with our class was an adventure. But this does not take away from all that we have done to be proud of."
Athletically, Rex said, the class contributed to both league and district titles in multiple sports during its four years and had a girls soccer team reach the state finals.
"We have many students who have gone above and beyond average," Rex continued.
"Athletes, artists, scholars, and just great members of the community are all accurate descriptions of our class," he said.
"As nostalgia sets in, many negative memories will be filtered out and we will be able to reflect and to see with a clear view that we were not just another class that made it through, we were truly a special group of kids," Rex added. "The Class of 2013 may no longer walk the halls of Whitehall High School, but our mark will remain imprinted all over that building."
Reynolds began with words from the Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin which she said seemed appropriate in talking to such a talented group of individuals.
"The lilac branches are bowed under the weight of the flowers. Blooming is hard, and the most important thing is to bloom," Reynolds said.
"Senior year has been difficult for a lot of people. I know it has been for me, what with college applications, research papers and final exams, With everything that's been going on, it's hard to take in the fact that this is it. The moment we've been dreaming of since kindergarten," she said.
With graduation time here, soon the class members will begin college and their careers.
"It's easy to be so excited for or anxious over the future that we forget to look back and enjoy the memories of the past four years," she said. "Like the lilac branches Zamyatin speaks of, we've been struggling under our own potential."
Reynolds said she learned life is more than just grades.
"No one is defined by his or her GPA. It was something that my friends as well as my teachers taught me and I, for one, will always be grateful to the people who made me realize that high school was only the starting point of my life," Reynolds said.
The most exciting thing about a new beginning is it gives you a chance to decide where the story will take you, she said.
"A man is like a novel, until the last page, you don't know how it will end. Otherwise, it wouldn't be worth reading," Reynolds continued, in quoting from Zamyatin.
Principal Christopher Schiffert said the graduates are a great class, that they did the school and community proud.
"You people are the best of Whitehall High School," Schiffert said. He added many decisions and successes lie ahead of each graduate.
"I challenge you to dream, make a mark in this word," said district Superintendent John Corby.
The graduates have been provided an education by their teachers and the district that will enable them to succeed.
"Change accepted," said student speaker Bria Dews. "Today is the day where we must make strides for a better tomorrow."
"Never let this unknown fear of what's ahead keep you from climbing to the top," added student speaker Simone Yaghi.