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Chester County Press

Avon Grove's 88th commencement graduates 430

06/14/2016 12:03PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

“Pomp and Circumstance” did not just usher in the graduates of Avon Grove High School on June 13 before a packed house at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark. Elgar's processional notwithstanding, the school's 88th commencement was a colorful blend of song, celebration and caps and mortars.
Class president Christopher Arencebia delivered the news many of his fellow 429 graduates were not anxious to hear – that the world outside the 5,000-seat arena was waiting for them, beginning the very next day.
“Four thousand, six hundred and seventy six days ago, a couple of kindergartners walked into their first day of school, and 12 years, nine months and 19 days later, here we are,” Arencebia began his address, titled “Change the Pizza, Change the World.”
“Starting tomorrow, our new chapter begins. Come tomorrow, there will be no jocks, no music nerds, no smart kids, no dumb kids. Tomorrow, we are all adults in the real world. Tomorrow, we all start from the same spot again,” Arencebia said.
Referring to the many success stories he has seen among his classmates, Arencebia said that he was confident they could meet the challenges that await them, whether they are headed for college, work or the military.
“Every acceptance letter you've received, every job you've gotten, and every single worksheet you finished in AP classes – they were all victories for you, no matter how big or small,” he said. “You gave up so much for a goal, and you should be proud of that.
“Life is cyclical and it's so easy to have motivation during the good times, but the real test is when you fall, and trust me, you're going to fall,” he added. “You will get knocked down so many times that the dirt will seem like a familiar place. But the great thing about falling is that the more you get knocked down, the faster your realize that the ground is there to push us back to our feet. You just have to be willing to stand back up.”
Arencebia asked his fellow graduates to “look inside yourself and realize that every single memory you have made in 12 years is a part of who you are. Each and every one of us. Today, our first chapters have finally been written.”
Arencebia's speech highlighted nearly an hour of student addresses. After opening remarks by principal Scott DeShong, senior speaker Gabrielle Cressman gave her speech, “The Body”; class salutatorian Kyle Denton delivered “Who We Were, Are, and Will Be”; which was followed by “You Are Important” by senior speaker Robert Evans; and “Whatever You Want,” by valedictorian Amanda Addiego.
Senior speakers Carlie Banter and Alexandra Fulmer's “Here's to Our Beginnings” took a funny poke at their high school years, which included surviving frequent mental breakdowns and passing their math classes.
“If there's one thing that you've always wanted to say to that one person in your class you had a crush on, and have had the pleasure to admire the back of their head for however long, say it,” they said. “Because once we walk out of these doors and into our cars … after moving these tassles which symbolize the 13 years of schooling we all have accomplished, that kid in class won't matter any more. Even though it may not seem like it now, our lives will go on without them.”
The Senior Ensemble, led by Marissa Donlevie and accompanied by Mikala Moorech, performed the song, “Unwritten.”
Special recognition was given to 86 graduates who were responsible for earning close to $123,000 in scholarships and awards.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail