CLARKS GREEN — English teacher Marilyn Pryle, who served as the faculty speaker, recognized the many triumphs the graduates have achieved and also challenged them to treat others with compassion and respect during Abington Heights High School’s Commencement June 22 at Comets Stadium.
“You are a class of many achievements, great and small, in academics, sports, music, arts, and all kinds of extracurricular activities,” Pryle said. “You’ve won awards, titles, medals, chocolate bars, and your fame is widespread. The ancient Greeks had a word for this: Kleos. It means your glory, your fame and outstanding deeds.
“The Class of 2018 has a great deal of Kleos. Now, you have a responsibly to take your talents and gifts and do good with them in this world.”
Pryle specifically urged the students to embrace everyone who comes into their lives.
“This life is a series of human connections and I would suggest that who you are as a person is even more important than what you achieve,” she said. “My challenge to you is not to change your own beliefs, but create a space to show hospitality in your heart for others. When you are truly present to others and let them exist without felling judgment, fear, anger or superiority, then you practice true compassion. Be kind…even when it’s not easy.”
Graduate Paige Morgan, who introduced Pryle, believes the teacher has made a great impact on many of her students.
“She has built her classroom on a foundation of positivity,” Morgan said. “Her devotion and love for teaching has changed the lives of so many people to come through Abington, including myself. I would like to thank her for being one of the kindest, most well-rounded individuals I’ve ever met and for making me a better person through her positivity and happiness both inside and outside the classroom.”
Class historian Siena Rainey spoke highly of Class President and Salutatorian Mateen Kasim, who will study Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh’s Honors College.
“His intelligence transcends far beyond academics,” Rainey said. “His intellect is prevalent in every conversation and his remarkable empathy guides him in this quest. I believe I’m right in saying that Mateen has somehow made a positive impact on each student in the Class of 2018. His interpersonal intelligence travels seamlessly between social groups. He has the capacity to befriend any person and deeply understand each one of them.”
Valedictorian Katie Dammer, who will study Neurobiology and compete on the cross country and track & field teams at Georgetown University, shared some lessons she has learned through running with her fellow graduates.
“There is always someone better than you at everything,” Dammer said. “This should be refreshing, not scary. Be prepared, enter the race anyway and fear no one. You have intelligence and grit so never count yourself out, even when it seems others have.”
Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon, Ph.D. recognized graduate Luke Gualtieri, who plans to enter the military.
“There is always an element of service to community and country that motivates our young men and women to the calling of military service,” Mahon said. “That calling to protect our nation continues to be fundamentally important in our dangerous world.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.