More than 200 Fleetwood students walked across the stage at the 2017 graduation held at Kutztown University’s Keystone Hall on June 6.
Charles Ebersole, director of graduation, welcomed friends, families, faculty, graduates and guests.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for joining us in honoring the hard work and dedication this class has placed upon their education over the past 13 years,” said Ebersole. “This evening holds a lot of emotions for students, faculty, administrators and relatives alike.”
Ebersole gave special recognition to Superintendent Dr. Paul Eaken, thanking him for his years of service to the school district. Eaken served as superintendent for 13 years and retires at the end of the school year, passing the reins over to Greg Miller who will take over July 1.
Maya Stern and Megan Majewski were the first two students welcomed on stage to address their class, friends, family and faculty.
“Welcome friends and family to the Fleetwood class of 2017’s graduation,” said Stern, class president. “For years we have in chairs and talked about people who have said and done great things, and now we are given the chance to do the same. As we each continue into the next chapter, it is vital that we all remember that we cannot be successful without an initial struggle. And in times of doubt, remember to never doubt yourself. We are each given the opportunity to go into the world and do something to better it, and it now our responsibility to do so.”
This fall, Stern plans to attend Arcadia University to study psychology.
“On behalf of the class officers, we would like to thank every one of you for the memories we have shared over the past several years,” said Majewski, class vice president. “It is our hope that all of you are successful and find happiness throughout your endeavors. Go through life with compassion and selflessness, spread love and positivity. Life isn’t a race. Take each day as it comes, and enjoy every moment of it. We wish everyone the best of luck and are excited for what’s to come. Congratulations class of 2017, it has been our honor to represent you throughout the past four years.”
Majewski, also a member of the National Honor Society, will attend Coastal Carolina University to study biology, this fall.
“I find it ironic that a 17 year old who has been exposed to so little of the world is giving you a speech,” said Kyle Keirstead, class Valedictorian. “For years, I have been the listener, the observer and the note taker, gathering knowledge and wisdom from those around me. I’ve a lot a lot of things from some incredible people over this time.”
Keirstead is a National Merit Scholarship awarded student, AP Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society.
Keirstead shared the five keys to becoming the best version of yourself that he has learned as a student. He believes that there is no stronger driving force than the will to better yourself.
“If you truly want to make yourself better, you will succeed. It is when you are not invested in the self improvement that we fail,” he said.
Next, Keirstead recognized the power of psychology.
“Without the right mind set, without self-belief, it is easy to give up,” he said. “You must believe that there is only one option, and that is success. Anything else is simply unacceptable. By telling yourself what you must do, your body will often rise to the challenge, whether it is physically or mentally.”
Keirstead referred to Thomas Edison’s quote, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” to demonstrate the importance of persistence.
Next he talked about the importance of using fear as fuel and letting it push you to new heights “Do you think the first astronauts weren’t scared when they went into space? But if they hadn’t gone, think about where humankind would be a half-century later,” said Keirstead. “The things we don’t know scare us, the best way to overcome this is to get to know our fears a little better.”
Lastly, Keirstead stressed the importance of living every day to the fullest.
“Too often, I feel that we take the fact that there is a tomorrow for granted. When in fact, today could be our last day,” he said. Take the chances you get, and when life doesn’t give you any go make some opportunities for yourself. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?”
Keistead will attend Georgia Institute of Technology to study computer science this fall.
Adam Cook, Salutatorian, addressed the importance of making mistakes. Cook is a member of the National Honor Society, and an AP Scholar.
“Can you member the last mistake that you made? Was it earlier today, or maybe yesterday? Or maybe you can’t remember your last mistake,” he said. “Did you take a wrong turn or forget to water the plants, or did you cheat your way through or lie to someone you care about. It’s very ironic, when you take the wrong turn or forget to water the plants it seems you’re more likely to learn from that mistake compared to if you cheated or lied. Why is it so hard to take accountability for big mistakes? Probably because it takes more effort and more courage to own up to a major lapse in judgment compared to a simple slip-up.”
Cook asked his class, friends, family and faculty if they admitted to the last mistake that they had made.
“Mistakes are as natural as breathing. They occur every waking hour of your life, trust me there’s no escaping them. However, as we pass through life, instead of ignoring our mistakes, we must embrace them,” said Cook. “By realizing our mistakes, we grow exponentially faster than the poor person who continues to repeat the same mistakes. I have made my fair share of mistakes over the last four years; yet, I don’t regret the mistakes that I have made. I appreciate them; use them for growth, like instructions for the future given by my past self.”
In the fall, Cook will study engineering at Penn State University.
The last student welcomed to the stage to address the room was Rebecca Fritz, recognized as the class’ Outstanding Berks Career Technology Center Student.
“The reason I stand in front of you all today is because of Berks Career Technology Center,” said Fritz. “I would never trade my experiences at BCTC for anything. Above all, the most valuable thing that I’ve taken away from my time at BCTC is the relationships I’ve built with my classmates. The people I’ve met in my health occupations class have made me the person I am today. I hope every single one of you forms a relationship like the one I have with the people in my class.”
Through BCTC, Fritz says that she solidified her determination to become an oncology nurse, gained crucial clinical experience and earned her certification as a nurse’s assistant.
Fritz will attend Bloomsburg University this fall to study nursing.
“Without Fleetwood’s opportunity to attend tech school I may have never figured out my path in life. Although not everybody’s path is straight forward and simple, you will all make it out of the woods.”