Con‘Grad’ulations, Warwick Class of 2019!

By on June 12, 2019

Warwick High School’s Class of 2019 was Warwick Strong as they celebrated their commencement on Tuesday, June 11, at Calvary Church.

Senior class president Oliver Lance lightened the evening’s pomp and circumstance by holding a handcrafted toy car as he gave the final send-off to his classmates. With it, he sent the new graduates on their journey into the world, encouraging them to “Live Life in a World of LEGOs.”

What he meant was that his fellow 339 high school graduates should be ready to live in the next stage of their lives with creativity, flexibility, and imagination.

“Living life like LEGOs is perfectly imperfect,” said Lance, adding that the new graduates should build their own lives and not follow the directions on the box.

New Warwick graduates (from left to right) Ethan Heller, Valerie Hanna, Daniel Wentzel, and Kayleigh Hegarty. Photos by Kirk Neidermyer.

Recalling all the trials and triumphs of young life, from elementary school track and field day to high school prom at Rock Lititz, the class president called on his classmates to follow their own path in life and build their own futures.

Warwick’s Leah Graybill and Emily Williamson take a selfie with their track state championship medals at Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA on June 11, 2019.

 

Kirstin Esbenshade

Marshall Adams

Warwick’s Abriella Belye poses with her diploma at Calvary Church.

 

Daniel Figueroa

 

John Williams

 

Warwick’s Oliver Lance was named Salutatorian of the Class of 2019.

 

Warwick’s 339 cap-and-gown clad students entered Calvary Church in as seniors. They left as graduates Tuesday night.

 

Jocelyn Brechbill, shown receiving her diploma, was a regular contributor to the student-driven Warrior Beat page in the Record Express this year.

“We have experienced complete and utter joy here at Warwick, and we have faced incredible sorrow,” he said. “We are fortunate to have each other, to have love and support. We are together. We are Warwick.”

Warwick School District Superintendent Dr. April Hershey reminded the class of 2019 that they were strong and resilient, and that they not only had physical strength but mental and emotional strength. She commended them on their grit and determination, and on their love and compassion for each other.

“We are your team. We are your army,” she told them. “We are all Warwick Strong. We love you and we will miss you.”

The spirit of strength and kindness permeated the entire commencement. The 13 young people who will be going into military service after graduating were honored by their families and all of those attending the event. Five will be serving their country in the U.S. Marines, three in the U.S. Navy, two in the Army National Guard, two in the Air Force, and one in the Coast Guard.

Evan Troop was named as Valedictorian of the Class of 2019, while class president Lance was Salutatorian.

Thirty-four students were named as the top 10 percent of scholars in their class. Many of them were among those honored for their accomplishments in the National Art Honor Society, National Spanish Honors Society, National French Honors Society, National German Honors Society, National English Honors Society, National Science Honors Society, National Business Honors Society, CTC Honors Society, Tri-M Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, and National Honors Society. Noah Reuter was commended as the Foreign Exchange Student from Germany.

The commencement speakers were Jocelyn Brechbill, Heather Mitchell, and Anthony Rago.

Brechbill shared her thoughts on the importance of living life with passion. She told her classmates that some may seek to find the cure for cancer, while others may aim to be president. Still others may knit scarves for the needy, sharing their passion and compassion.

“What is the flame that burns at the core of your being?” she asked. “Seek what you love to do, and follow your passion.”

Mitchell reminded the new graduates that they were moving from a time where their lives were mapped out for them. She emboldened them to remain unconquerable and unafraid as they faced life’s challenges.

Citing the words of 19th-century poet William Ernest Henley &tstr; later used by South African president Nelson Mandela as he overcame apartheid national strife, and imprisonment–Mitchell inspired her fellow graduates with Henley’s words of, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

Tony Rago brought a touch of levity with his words of wisdom, as he called on the country music philosopher Kelly Clarkson’s lyrics to remember that “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

He then channeled the great Yoda to remind his classmates to not be afraid of making mistakes, because mistakes make them stronger and “The greatest teacher, failure is.”
For the Class of 2019, their senior year was indeed a year of loss, tragedy, hope, and strength.

“I can’t say enough about the way the teachers, administration and the whole community pulled together for us. With that support we were able to overcome the tremendous loss and get through a difficult time,” said graduating senior Ethan Heller, who is set to play baseball and study business at Lehigh University.

New graduates Kayleigh Hegarty and Valerie Hanna were touched by the support of the Warwick community, which went beyond just the school and into the entire Warwick area community. The losses reminded them that life is fragile, and encouraged them to live their lives to the fullest.

As he prepares to study graphic design and craft and materials at Virginia Commonwealth University, graduate Daniel Wentzel spoke wisely about the lessons learned during his senior year at Warwick.

“No day is guaranteed,” he said. “We have learned to cry and we have learned to laugh. We have learned to be stronger together.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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