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Chester County Press

Avon Grove graduates 464 at June 13 ceremony

06/20/2017 02:17PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

On June 13, a little after 7 p.m., 464 teenagers, all dressed in the maroon colors of what would soon become their alma mater, filed into Newark's Bob Carpenter Center, closing one chapter of their lives and beginning the next one.
Welcomed by an enthusiastic and overflow audience of family members, teachers and mentors, the  members of the Avon Grove High School graduating class of 2017 took their seats to the opening processional of Elgar's “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by the school's graduation band, under the direction of Michael Davino.
During the ceremony, the class was addressed by six of their fellow students, beginning with senior speaker Emma Ryan Robertson, who delivered “The End of a Chapter.” She was followed by salutatorian Noah Michael Donten, who spoke about commencement serving as both an ending and a beginning.
Senior speaker Brian Daniel Armstrong's “We Can” address was followed by “Remember,” delivered by valedictorian Drew Arielle Lazarow; senior speaker Daphne Margaret Bonner's “The Continuers” and “The Tassel is Worth the Hassle,” by senior class president CJ Charles Berger.
While student speeches focused heavily on the need to cherish the memories of high school, celebrating the achievement of graduating and making a strong mark on the world, one moment served to honor the immediate future of nearly two dozen graduates. During his opening remarks, Avon Grove High School principal Scott DeShong recognized several students who will soon be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, attending military academies and serving in reserve training corps while in college. After being named, each student stood and received applause from the audience.
DeShong also recognized the many graduates who are the recipients of scholarships and awards, which he said totaled more than $4.3  million.
Led by director Amanda Wilcox, the Senior Ensemble performed “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, composed by Jonathan Larson.
Presentation of diplomas was conducted by senior assistant principal Natalie Ortega-Moran, superintendent Dr. M. Christopher Marchese, school board president Bonnie Wolff and school board vice president Brian Gaerity.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email

The following speech, entitled "The Continuers," was delivered at Avon Grove High School's June 13 Commencement by Senior Speaker Daphne Bonner:

Before I start, I'd like to say sorry if I ever stepped on the back of your shoe in
the hallway. That’s the worst.
Well, it his has been quite the year for us. I mean it’s the year. 2017. We’ve
been hearing it for so long, yet I never thought it would actually come. The most
bizarre thing was writing the date the first day we got back from winter break. 2017
just seemed like an impossible year.
And now it’s June.
It’s strange to recognize an important moment while it’s happening. Usually in
life, we don’t realize the important moments until after they’ve passed. And often we
feel sad when we do realize they’re important, because we feel we didn’t get the
most out of them.
But there are moments that we do know are important before they're over.
We’ve had a lot of those moments this year. Our last first day of school. Senior color
wars. Final sports games. Prom. We knew these moments were important, because
we knew we’d never be able to do them again. And moments like that are nice
because it comes with a reminder, like a siren that goes off, telling us to appreciate
and get the most out of them before it's too late.
Tonight is one of those moments. Our high school graduation. This is
monumental! We’ve been literally counting down the days to it. And now we’re in the
moment we’ve been waiting for. Here. Standing, in these silly hats, thinking of all
we’ve earned and all we can do because of it…... Feeling this tidal wave of
accomplishment; the cathartic exhalation of finally reaching the light at the end of the
four year long tunnel; the sweet, biting nostalgia for something that hasn't yet
This commencement marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new;
commencement means beginning, after all. And with it comes the opportunity to
learn how to do this one better.
For four years, it’s been all about time. The meticulous counting down to the
foreseeable, irresistible future; the “rest of our lives”. But tonight: that ends. It is the
future. It is the rest of our lives.
And now that it's here, maybe we realize we did waste time counting down,
and we shouldn't have wished away our days too soon. But right now, we can
redeem ourselves from that. We have the opportunity to change.
For some reason, humans need to have an excuse to live in the moment, or
else we won’t do it. And it’s these moments in life — the ones we know are important
— that give us our excuse . So let's use tonight as our excuse to change. Our excuse
to live our days instead of counting them down.
The countdown is over. At this moment right now: we have broken free from
time. It’s no longer another year down; it’s another year to continue.
Class of 2017: we are the continuers. And there is no other time than now