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Class of 2024 to write its own story



Parkland Class of 2024 President Timothy Daniel Saad, carrying the class key, and Senior Class Officers Ali Wezza, Gabriella Gavirati, Jenna Mahmud, Madison Siggins and Vanessa Stauffer led their soon-to-be fellow graduates toward the next chapter in their lives, receiving their high school diplomas at commencement on June 4 at the PPL Center, Allentown.

The procession of seniors, dressed in red and gray gowns, walked into the arena as the high school band, under the direction of Jason D. Lerew, performed “Pomp and Circumstance,” by Edward Elgar.

After the school’s Alma Mater by Effie Minnich Newberg and “The Star-Spangled Banner” were performed by the high school band, Assistant Principal Crystal George welcomed the Class of 2024, family, friends, school board members and staff to the commencement before introducing Saad.

“Good evening, Parkland families, friends, staff and students,” Saad said. “It is an honor to be speaking in front of all of you tonight.

“It feels like yesterday, we were all starting out our years at Parkland High School.

“Some of us walking through the rotunda doors, six feet apart of course, glasses fogging up under our masks (due to the pandemic).

“Others were just trying to stay awake.

“In those moments, I thought to myself, four more years of this, are you serious?

“It always seemed so far away, and I felt as if I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t make it through.

“And now I’m speaking in front of all of you today and I look back only to realize how fast it really went ...

“What a journey it has been. In freshman year, I dreaded the years ahead.

“But today I regret not cherishing every moment.”

He added the last four years of triumphs and failures, have all made him who he is today.

“So, to my peers as we proceed out these doors into the next exhilarating chapter of our lives, I leave you with the message, you get to write your own story,” Saad said. “Every day you have the opportunity to make countless choices that inevitably define your life ...

“We all have the ability to do something great, I know it because I’ve seen it with my own eyes ...

“So, I want you to try to put yourself out there with every chance that you get.

“And if you fail, good. Keep on failing because if you’re not failing, you’re not trying ...

“Don’t just write an average story, but one you can look back at and be proud of.

“Make your story beautiful. Our journeys are all just beginning, so make yours the best it could possibly be.”

“I’d like to say thank you to all the students in the class of 2024. We made Parkland what it was together and as I said before, what an unforgettable journey it has been. The connections we have fostered in class are something so incredibly special and I will never forget that impact you all have had on my life.”

As his last official order of business as the president of the Class of 2024, Saad gave the class key to Omar Moawad, president of the Class of 2025.

“I know that as we leave Parkland it will be in good hands, because the Class of 2025 will continue our legacy in academic, athletic and artistic accents,” Saad said.

Moawad then addressed those gathered at the commencement ceremony.

“Thank you, Timothy Saad, for showing what it means to be a true leader here at Parkland and for passing the key onto me,” Moawad said.

“On behalf of the junior class I would like to congratulate the Class of 2024 on this remarkable achievement.

“You guys are going to be missed. I’m sure you will all do great things in the future.

“We are all cheering you on and once again, congratulations.”

Following the musical presentation of “For Forever” from the play “Dear Evan Hansen,” performed by the Senior Chorale, student speaker Ethan Silver addressed the soon-to-be graduates.

“To the staff, teachers, administration, school board, families, friends, and most importantly, my fellow graduates, good evening, Parkland, this is Ethan “Earthquake” Silver here with your special graduation report,” Silver said. “ Class of 2024, we finally made it.

“Graduation speeches are often about looking back at our education, reminiscent and more of all we have accomplished.

“Then typically, the speaker turns our gaze to the future, laying out the path we have before us.

“Something I, as your high school weatherman, have done every Friday for the past three years, trying to forecast the future.

“But today I’d like to do something a little different.

“As we sit here together, I ask us to truly take in this moment, this experience and reflect on what it means for our lives right now.

“As author Sloane Crossley writes, ‘The most practical thing I have learned is the power of the present tense.

“‘The past is quicksand, and the future is unknowable. In the present you get the fruit.’”

Siver then told his classmates that Parkland has shaped them into the people they are.

“This isn’t to say the future is something we should ignore,” Silver said. “We all have our individual dreams, goals and aspirations. That’s important.

“But it’s what we do in the moments of our lives toward those dreams in the present that ultimately turns aspiration into reality.

“The past is a great gift from which we gained measurable wisdom. But we cannot remember what if we fully weren’t present for in the first place ...

“If you’re not present for these moments, they’re fleeting and meaningless. “Embrace the moment, capture it, seal it into your brain ...

“That’s it for today’s graduation report. For the last this is Ethan “Earthquake” Silver signing off.”

District Superintendent Dr. Mark J. Madson then addressed the class.

“Ethan, I will say that is a very tough act to follow here for me, especially as a superintendent giving graduation remarks,” Madson said.

“The Class of 2024 is truly an inspiration. Each one of you will face challenges along the way, and my hope is that you have also found the time to find joy in the journey leading to this moment ...

“Parkland takes great pride in excellence across three core areas, academics, the arts and athletics. You did not disappoint.

“The level of success you’ve reached is unparalleled through your accomplishments in each of these three pillars.

“You have made us extremely proud ...”

Addressing the class, Madson said the night was all about them.

“It’s about celebrating memories of the past while holding great expectations for the future,” Madson said.

“The next few years will bring many exciting choices and opportunities your way.

“Be proud of what you have accomplished and be proud of what you will accomplish.

“What I want to share with you today is a message of hope for you and hope for your future ...”

Madson said he had a few final thoughts for the soon-to-be graduates to take with them.

“First you matter. Every single one of you matter, your voice, your actions, and most importantly as I speak about the impact that you have on others,” Madson said.

“Your presence, your effort, everything that you do matters and makes you different...

“Each of you has put in the hard work and time to be here this evening, yet we all have very special people in our lives that give us that extra push, comfort us when we need support, provide tough love on occasion, inspire us to be great, maybe taught us valuable life lesson or they’re just that really great friend that you need...

“Be grateful for those in your life that have helped you, supported you ...”

He then thanked the 20 members of the Class of 2024 who will be entering the military or a military academy.

“I believe I speak for everyone here tonight and on behalf of my own family, thank you for your service, your sacrifice, your dedication to our country and the freedoms we enjoy, it will never be forgotten.”

Principal Nathan T. Davidson then introduced school board President Carol Facchiano.

“At this time, Mrs. Facchiano, I am happy to certify that these members of the Parkland High School Class of 2024 appearing before you this evening have met the requirements for graduation as established by the Pennsylvania State Department of Education and Parkland School Board.

Facchiano then addressed the soon-to-be graduates before presenting them with their diplomas.

“To the exceptional Class of 2024, today marks the end of a significant chapter in your lives and the beginning of an exciting journey,” Facchiano said. “It is natural to feel a mix of emotions, pride in your achievements, the support you have received and perhaps a bit of apprehensive about the future.

“Today, however, I want to focus on the incredible potential that lies ahead of each one of you.

“From your education you have gained knowledge in a lot more ways than academics.

“You have discovered your passion, faced challenges and developed resilience. You have made lifelong friends and created memories that will last with you forever.”

She then told class members each of them has a unique story.

“As you go into the future remember a few key lessons,” Facchiano said. “Embrace change.

“The world is constantly evolving and so are you. Change can be daunting, but it also brings opportunities for growth and innovation.

“Do not be afraid to take risks ... Stay curious. Never stop learning, whether it is through formal education, personal hobbies, or professional development.

“Keep seeking knowledge. Be resilient, life will undoubtedly throw obstacles in your way. It is not the challenge that defines you, it is how you respond to them ...

“As you achieve your personal and professional goals, remember to give back to your community. Use your talents and resources to make a positive impact in the world...

“Congratulations to each and every one of you.”

After the awarding of diplomas, several red, white and blue beach balls were tossed into the air.

Davidson closed the commencement.

“As we close this evening, I want to take this opportunity to let you know how honored I have been to be your principal,” Davidson said. “You welcomed me into your student family and allowed me to share in your many successes.

“Your class will always share a special place in my heart, beach balls and all.

“As several of your classmates recently mentioned, they were the ones who sat in on the interview committee that hired me.

“That got me thinking if you have any complaints or did not like the decision that I made over the last two years, blame them.

“If you enjoyed the time and all the great things that happened at Parkland High School, well, that was all me.

PRESS PHOTOS BY LOU WHEELAND Parkland High School Assistant Principal Crystal George, master of ceremonies, welcomes the Class of 2024, families and friends to the graduation ceremony June 4 at the PPL Center, Allentown.
Parkland High School Class of 2024 President Timothy Saad and class officers lead the procession of graduates into the PPL Center on June 4 for their commencement ceremony. Additional photos appear on pages A2 and A15.
Mortarboards fly at the conclusion of the Parkland High School Class of 2024 commencement.
Ethan “Earthquake” Silver gave the “Graduation Report” for the Parkland High School Class of 2024 commencement June 4 at the PPL Center, Allentown. PRESS PHOTOS BY LOU WHEELAND
Parkland School District Superintendent Mark Madson addresses graduates, families and friends at the Class of 2024 commencement.
Nathan Davidson, principal, addressed the Class of 2024 at commencement June 4 in the PPL Center, Allentown.
Carol Facchiano, president, Parkland School Board, invites the Class of 2024 onto the stage to receive their diplomas.
PRESS PHOTOS BY LOU WHEELAND Ready to move on are Class of 2024 members Alexander Blickley, Raul Isaac Gonzalez Herrera, Kofi Arkaah, Luke Blenis, Trey Tremba and Louis Inserra.
It's graduation time for Joanna Chou, Mollie Fisher, Lauren Ervin, Sada Fleischaker, Sarah George and Alexandria Grace at the Parkland High School Class of 2024 commencement June 4 at the PPL Center, Allentown.
Parkland High School Class of 2024 Class Officers Ali Wezza, vice president; Madison Siggins, senate officer; Timothy Saad, president; Gabriella Gavirati, treasurer; Vanessa Stauffer, historian, and Jenna Mahmud, secretary, prepare to lead their fellow classmates into the arena at the PPL Center for graduation.
Class of 2024 President Timothy Saad presents the Parkland Key to Omar Moawad, president of the Class of 2025, at the commencement ceremony.
A frisky beach ball found its way into the Class of 2024 commencement June 4 at the PPL Center, Allentown.