SALISBURY TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT
The 54th commencement of the Salisbury High School Class of 2018 was held June 5 at Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.
The Salisbury High School Falcon Band, under the direction of Rachel A. Reinecke, played “Pomp and Circumstance” as 139 members of the Class of 2018 entered Symphony Hall to the cheers of family and friends.
Principal Heather Morningstar welcomed everyone to the commencement ceremony and introduced Superintendent Dr. Randy M. Ziegenfuss and Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Lynn A. Fuini-Hetten who provided opening remarks.
Ziegenfuss noted the accomplishments of the graduates including National Honor Society members, Top 10 students, Lehigh County Technical Institute academic achievements and scholar athletes.
Ziegenfuss also acknowledged the skills of the graduates, some of whom were responsible for live streaming the commencement ceremony on RCN Channel 68 and Service Electric Channel 268.
Fuini-Hetten shared with the audience the “Profile of a Graduate” initiative developed to focus on “What knowledge, skills and dispositions do we want Salisbury graduates to have in order to be successful citizens and workers in a shifting economy?”
The profile includes knowledge and literacies, including global competence, core curriculum, digital and financial literacy; dispositions, including persistence, curiosity, risk-takers, caring, compassionate, entrepreneurial, resilience; and skills, including critical thinking, effective communication, creating bravely and collaboration with others.
Fuini-Hetten noted how this year’s graduates used empathy, caring and compassion by volunteering at St. Luke’s, New Bethany and Phoebe Home, just to name a few and by also donating blood to the Miller-Keystone Blood Center.
Ziegenfuss told graduates to take their knowledge, skills and disposition and “keep learning, make a difference and follow your passion.”
Representing the Salisbury Township School District Board of Directors, Susan M. Lea, Esq. told the students every discussion at the board level is prefaced by, “What is in the best interest of our students?” Lea also noted the caring and investment by the staff and leaders at the schools.
To the graduates, Lea said, “Don’t miss this moment – moments you’ll remember your entire life.” Lea told the graduates to “take risks, be curious .... this is your moment; this is your beginning.”
SHS teacher and Class of 2018 advisor Kelly A. Butterbaugh introduced Class President Vivian M. Rogers, calling her “dedicated, motivated ... a leader.”
Rogers congratulated the graduates and thanked parents, family, administrators, faculty and staff for “helping us to get here today.”
Rogers shared memories of elementary school, middle school and a “whooping cough” outbreak at the high school. She encouraged the graduates to “continue to do great things.”
SHS Assistant Principal Brian A. Muschlitz introduced Salutatorian Owen T. Mendes noting Mendes moved into the district as a junior. Muschlitz said Mendes enjoys reading fiction and dark topics and hiking, but his greatest passion is acting. Mendes has been in 15 musicals and plays and was nominated this year for a Freddy Award.
Mendes thanked everyone who helped the graduates and thanked the students for making him feel welcome when he moved to Salisbury.
“Everyone treated me with an openness I never expected,” Mendes said.
Mendes also talked about the importance of kindness.
“Never lose that spirit of openness and kindness,” Mendes said.
Mendes noted two teachers: Michael Barna “who makes learning fun and makes everyone feel inclusive” and Joseph Pacitti, who inspired Mendes to be an English teacher.
Mendes originally thought he would go on to be a neurosurgeon, but he decided that profession would not make him happy.
“Choose the path that leads to the greatest path of happiness,” Mendes said.
“If its being a neurosurgeon, good luck. If it is making donuts, buy a plane ticket to Belize and never look back,” Mendes said.
Morningstar introduced this year’s valedictorian, Elena W. Lagunilla, saying she is a “conscientious worker, helps fellow students, sets a positive example, a natural leader and looks for the best qualities in everyone.”
Lagunilla will attend Penn State University - main campus in the fall to study biomedical research.
Lagunilla said not only was it an exciting night for the graduates but an exciting night for the teachers who survived the Class of 2018.
“Today we graduate and although we may be leaving the Salisbury community, the Salisbury community and its impact will not leave us. Salisbury is a small school and if you have heard it once you have heard it a thousand times – Salisbury is like a second family. What makes Salisbury so special is the people. From the teachers to the counselors to the custodial staff, they all are dedicated to helping students. However, Salisbury would be nothing if it weren’t for the students,” Lagunilla said.
Lagunilla continued, “The Class of 2018 is full of talented individuals. Some of us will be going to college, some will be entering the workforce and some are entering the armed forces, but none of us are done learning. There is so much that we all need to learn about life. Everyone has the potential to impact the world in a positive way and achieve excellence – all it takes is a little hard work.”
Senior members of the chorus sang “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, Danielle Brisebois and Wayne Rodrigues.
SHS teacher Tanya Kennedy, Salisbury Educational Support Professional Association member Dawn M. Cressman and SHS staff Rachel L. Legath presented awards to students.
Following the presentation of diplomas to the graduates, a reception was held at the Arts Park for graduates and their families.