Good evening and thank you for attending tonight’s ceremony …

We are a unique senior class. Together, we have endured hardships that we would have never believed to be possible. From young up, we have constantly been on a journey to reach the summit of Mount Carmel, only to have a boulder crash down and stop us dead in our tracks. With bottomless vigor, we have attempted to break this seemingly impenetrable roadblock in hope to reach the other side. Although we have not moved it, we have found ways around it, and now, we sit in the fruits of our labor. But, just for a moment today, as we rest on the other side of that daunting boulder, I believe we should focus on what memories were created during our time as students at Mount Carmel Area.

We all began at the base of Mount Carmel in kindergarten. Our class of small, rowdy 5- and 6-year-olds had their first taste at what life at MCA would be like for the next 12 years. In the blink of an eye, our class graduated kindergarten as the class of 2006. As we received our diplomas, we passed the first major milestone on our journey into education. I still remember my utter disappointment upon discovering that my diploma I received at the ceremony was just a simple piece of paper. Following our first year of schooling, our class gradually grew and defined ourselves as we climbed the seemingly endless mountain of the elementary school hierarchy. As we developed both mentally and physically, we made memories and created lasting friendships that many of us still hold today. I feel as if it was just yesterday that I was seated next to Ryan in Ms. Vannorman’s second-grade class. Once meeting, Ryan and I made so many exciting memories, and Mrs. Vannorman soon regretted seating us next to each other. Swiftly, our class pushed our way past each grade with determination. Every year, we were taught by amazing teachers that prepared us for what challenges lie ahead. We were taught the horrors of long division by Mr. Paulson, the history and geography of the world by Mrs. Grayeski, and how to “Wake up and smell the coffee” in Mrs. DeFrancesco’s reading class. Finally, we reached the summit of the elementary school mountain, sixth grade. I think we can all agree that, by far, sixth grade was a year to remember. We reached our second milestone on our climb; we were the “seniors” of the elementary school. In that one hallway, hundreds of memories were created. Mini-Thon, now known as Think Big, was introduced, Fun Fair was planned, Star Search performances were practiced, and the list goes on. But, swiftly, these events became memories, and our class was preparing for our next climb, a climb on a mountain that dwarfed that of elementary school.

The next, seemingly impossible climb was high school. We entered once again at the bottom of the slope as seventh-graders. Quickly, we all learned the inner workings of our new building, a place of mystery and enrichment. Unlike elementary school, high school provided us with a chance to find our niche at Mount Carmel. Some of us focused on the visual and musical arts, and others found their passions on the field, participating in the great history of Mount Carmel athletics, and some a mix of both. I myself, found my home in the TV studio with Mr. McFee and in the art room with Mrs. Stahr. In those rooms, I did not only learn lessons of the discipline, but also about life. With Mrs. Stahr, I learned how to not rest until I was satisfied with my work. With Mr. McFee, I discovered how to learn and think for myself and adapt to any problem that approaches me, but most importantly, I was taught that the fastest way from point A to point B is a straight line. All jokes aside, Studio and art were the two subjects that allowed me to express myself and make new friends along the way. I will never forget all the conversations Jade and I had before football games, the times that Erin and I were down on the field taking pictures as the action unfolded, or, most importantly, when I asked Makenzie to our 8th grade formal during an art club session.

As we all climbed the mountain of high school, each one of us had experiences such as these that we will cherish forever. Memories of the Red Tornadoes fighting it out under the Friday night lights, our amazing musicals that our cast and crew worked tirelessly to produce, or the many club trips that had their own unique memories made. Most importantly, we cannot forget about the amazing teachers that were by our side as we climbed the mountain to our senior year. In 7th grade, we experienced the dangers of Bath and Body Works with Mrs. Candelora and learned to never fall asleep in Mr. Connelly's class because you would most likely be screamed at through his megaphone. At this point, we also met our class advisor, Mrs. Nestico who, although losing both of her co-advisors, stuck with us through our climb to the summit, and I sincerely thank her for all she has done. As we moved on into eighth and ninth grade, we met Mr. Cunningham with his unique and bizzaro phrases or Mrs. Lyash with her many “really and trulys.” Swiftly, we reached the peak of our high school climb as juniors and seniors of the school. Here, I met Ms. Michaels and Ms. Seliga who supported me with every step I took, Ms. Jaro who aided me in advancing my writing skills, and Mr. Yaracz with his many soapboxes during Calculus class. Throughout our climb during high school, all of us have been taught by a teacher whom we will never forget. Each class was unique and provided us with much more than just an education. Finally, together as a class, we reached the peak of our Mount Carmel climb, the final milestone. Today, each of us sit anxiously waiting to set our flag at the peak of the mountain, frightened, but prepared to continue our trek into the unknown.

There are a multitude of mountains still yet be seized by the amazing potential that our class holds. Our mountains that lie ahead come in different forms. Some of us are moving onto a path of higher education in colleges or trade schools and others are preparing themselves for the workforce or military. No matter what trek you are preparing to endure, we all will still have commonalities. We will still be alumni of Mount Carmel Area, and we will be connected by what struggles we have endured in the past. As we move forward, I want us all to never forget our time here at Mount Carmel Area. In the future, if you ever are struggling or face hardships, take a moment to step back and reminisce on memories made in high school.

Before we all take our final step on our climb, I would like to personally thank all of the faculty, staff, administration and school board, especially Mr. McFee, who alone has had one of the largest impacts on me throughout my climb of high school. I would also like to thank my family, especially my mother, father, sister and grandparents who supported me unconditionally and pushed me to tackle any goal. Also, I thank my friends and the community for supporting not only myself, but our class during our trek throughout school and our current hardships. And last, but certainly not least, It is my honor to congratulate all the members of the Mount Carmel Area graduating Class of 2020 for finally placing their flag at the peak of Mount Carmel and I wish you all the best of luck with all of your future endeavors. And yes Mr. Yaracz, this is the end of my soapbox.

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