DANVILLE — Danville High School student speakers and the guest speaker spoke of emotions during commencement Friday night in the gym.
Student speakers Makenna Luzenski, James Zola and Coleman Cush discussed the movie "Inside Out." The film follows the emotions of joy, sadness, fear and anger as a girl settles into a new home with new friends.
Like characters in the movie, Zola said, "we all have had to make sacrifices to achieve goals."
"We will all be united by a shared beginning," he said.
Cush, the class president, said high school experience evokes every emotion. "Through our experiences, we can solve any problem math or not," he said using numbers to add and subtract ups and downs through the class's academic career — including 10 makeovers at the high school and four superintendents.
Later, High School Principal Jeremy Winn announced Cush as class valedictorian and Zola as salutatorian.
Luzenski said the Class of 2019 experienced a lot of pressure growing up — academically, socially and self-imposed. She said, despite this, the class was able to be successful in school, sports and in the arts.
Guest speaker Dr. Victor Marks, a Mohs and dermatology surgeon at Geisinger and a 1970 Danville graduate, focused on forgiveness and moving past loss. He said he can still see his 2-year-old brother Billy, who died after slipping into the Susquehanna River in 1955. Marks was 3 and a half at the time.
"I believe that recessed in my mind that is the reason I became a doctor because I might be able to help someone when I couldn't help my little brother," he said.
Marks said his mother thought the children were safe in a fenced-in yard that Halloween day. "Somehow she overcame the angst and guilt to raise four other children without smothering us," he said.
"Live a life of forgiveness and love. I wish for all of you to forgive so you can experience peace and love," he said.
Also participating in the ceremony were class treasurer Shane Kozick, acting superintendent Ricki Boyle, class secretary Chloe Reeder, class historian Peyton Riley who introduced Marks, class advisers Danielle Latsha-Keefer and Rebecca Readler and class Vice President Marisa Maffei. Winn, Assistant High School Principal Amy Willoughby, director of student services Christopher Johns and school board President Kevin Brouse presented diplomas to 151 graduates.