SMETHPORT — “Continue to strive for improvement and good things will happen,” said U.S, Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Woodruff urged members of the Class of 2019 Friday at the Smethport Area High School commencement exercises.
“Continue to progress, continue with your education, whether it’s on-the- job training, taking a course or two from home after work or at a college or joining the service,” added the 1993 Smethport graduate.
“Don’t back away from challenges because temporary discomfort isn’t bad, and that’s how we learn about ourselves,” he advised the class. “It’s good to get out of your comfort zone and find opportunities. They’re out there.”
Woodruff encouraged the soon-to-be official graduates — once they receive their diplomas — to “take a chance. Take the tough class, the job, one that will push you. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a mundane rut of same-same boredom. Set goals, track progress, and achieve them. And when you fall short, and you will sometimes, reset and try again.”
Woodruff spoke about the keys of motivation and determination leading to success. “You don’t have to be the smartest or most athletic. What you need is to be tough and stubborn with a no-quit attitude.”
He left the class with one more important message about achieving future success, saying, “While I’m sure the view from the top of the mountain is awesome, so is the climb to get there, especially the challenging steps...the bigger ones...the tougher ones. The ones we overcome. Those are the ones you’ll remember.”
Noah Costa, vice-president of the class, introduced Woodruff.
Class secretary Eric Szarowicz introduced the salutatorian, Darion Gregory.
A standout runner in track and field for the Hubbers, Darion recalled how this class excelled not only in athletics, but also in the classroom and extra-curricular activities that included band, choir, Peer Helpers student council, National Honor Society, mock trial and envirothon.
“In academics, the class was top-notch as 16 seniors were on the Honor Roll of Distinction and 15 more were named to the Honor Roll. In some cases, just one percentage point made a difference in class rank,” he said. Then he mentioned the class’ athletic successes — the undefeated seasons, league and district championships.
The senior ensemble sang a selection: “Count on Me.”
Hannah Moses, class treasurer, introduced Emily Gustafson, valedictorian.
Emily opened her remarks by thanking her teachers for providing an excellent education. “We’re prepared to meet future challenges,” she noted. Referring to Hubber Pride, Emily challenged her classmates to “follow your dreams because all dreams are worthwhile and attainable. Wishing is not enough. It must become ‘must do.’ Be bold and courageous. Do your best.”
Class member Marissa Jack sang a selection.
In his welcoming remarks, High School Principal Brice Benson referred to the bonds this class has made since they began their formal education.
Superintendent David London congratulated the Class of 2019. “I’ll remember you as winners, he said. “On this stage, we have league and district athletic champions, Miss McKean County Fair, winners of scholarships, as well as winners at the Career and Technical Center and winners of interviews for those entering the workforce and the service.
“And by receiving your diplomas, you’re winners.”
Benson then presented the class. “They have met the requirements as established by the Smethport Area School Board and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and may come forward to receive their diplomas,” he said.
Class co-presidents Rylee Crowley and Emily Gustafson announced the class roll and School Board President Larry Dennis presented the diplomas to the following:
Raven Ahearn, Javin Brown, Makaila Brown, Dale Burdick, Sara Burt, Joshua Canfield, Kylar Carpenter, Rieley Conner, Larry Conner, Noah Costa, Miranda Crooks, Rylee Crowley, Joseph DuBeck III, Zachary Frontino, Isaac Fuller, Victoria Gamet, Justyce Greenman, Lukas Greenman, Darion Gregory and Emily Gustafson.
Also, Joshua Hauber, Haylee Himes, Katelyn Himes, Nathan Hollowell, Abigail Holohan, Brant Howard, Marissa Jack, Darrin Jewell, Kaitlyn Kilhoffer, Blake Kinner, Bradley LaFleur, Willow Lapp, Caleb Lutz, Nicolas Mack, Kloie Martin, Kiana Miles, Hannah Moses, Mattelle Neely, Charles Ognen and Isaac Olson.
Also, Dylan Overbeck, Brandon Peterson, Joseph Peterson, Levi Redmond, Jordyn Rice, Caleb Roberts, Gabriel Rowley-Thompson, Elizabeth Ruffner, Alexander Sanderson, Dylan Schermerhorn, Parker Shonts, Edwin Slater, Daisy Smith, Isaac Smith, Austin Speedy, Rylee-Ann Spencer, Gage Stevens and Baylea Strom.
Also, Eric Szarowicz, Christian Tanner, Cordell Tanner, Samantha Tanner, Margaret Todd, Patricia Todd, Tyler Trummer, Tori Wilkerson, Jasmine Willetts, McKia Williams, Ian Woodruff, Emma Wright and Meagan Yingling.
Class officers led the traditional “Turning of Tassels.”
Following the singing of the Alma Mater, the graduates exited the auditorium and building, proceeding to the front circle for the customary tossing of the graduation caps.