By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

At a little after 7 p.m. on June 11, Avon Grove High School Principal Tom Alexander took the podium at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, and took a moment to admire the maroon and gold sea of 428 students from the Class of 2013, as well as the swell of 4,000 family members and friends.

“Just a few short years ago, you came to high school with certain hopes, fears and inhibitions,” Alexander said to the students. “Now, you're about to graduate with the feeling of confidence and pride over your many accomplishments. You found that there is no magic formula for learning. You found that the process of education takes time, work and patience.”

The event was marked by comical and poignant addresses by six students, a performance of “Seasons of Love” by the school's Senior Ensemble, and the recognition of the winners of 74 academic awards, that totaled $105,000 in scholarship money. Diplomas were presented by Senior Assistant Principal James Cooper, outgoing Avon Grove School District Superintendent Dr. Gus Massaro, and School Board President Bonnie Wolf.

Class salutatorian Anne Lertola began the student addresses with her amusing speech, “What We've Really Learned.” “We have learned is that the worse the weather, the more effective the fire drill,” she said. “We have learned that the most romantic rendezvous takes place in the dead center of the hallway.”

"Count to Three, Jump on Two," delivered by class valedictorian Karen "Ginny" Wells, based on the quote she said she lives her life by. "onight, it's officially our last night as Red Devils," Wells said. "In about an hour and a half, our careers as high schoolers will be officially be over. Our lives actually start beginning. Our futures begin. No one no one knows what the future holds, but whatever it holds, I wish each and every one of you good luck."

Class President Ariel Pastore-Sebring, delivered a speech entitled, "Embrace Our Differences," and Matt Jirak and Katie McLaughlin, the last student speakers, presented "Master the Stairs," a funny reflection of some of the trials and tribulations they and their fellow class members went through in their years at the school.

The most poignant student address of the evening belonged to Senior Speaker Nicholas Pierce. His "The Foundation" was a rhyming manifesto that at its conclusion, brought many in the audience to its collective feet.

"Education is the foundation," Pierce said. "Preparing the world for the next population," Pierce said. "Are all the necessary steps to the people's liberation/And we can achieve them all, through education."