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Chester County Press

Praised for their adaptability and perseverance, 444 graduate from Avon Grove

05/27/2022 01:32PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photos by Richard L. Gaw        The 444 graduates of the Class of 2022 received their diplomas during Avon Grove High School’s 94th annual commencement ceremony, held May 25 at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

During her remarks at the start of the 94th annual Commencement ceremony for Avon Grove High School on May 25 at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Principal Dr. Christie Snead looked out at the Class of 2022 and saw 444 young people who have emerged from two years of COVID-19 with a resiliency and determination that will lay the groundwork for their future.

“You – the Class of 2022 – were the accomplishment,” Snead said. “The Class of 2022 successfully navigated two full years of high school during a pandemic, and that is quite an accomplishment. You learned how to be flexible, with little to no notice, and demonstrated hard work and determination. What makes your class unique is your ability adapt and persevere.

“These two qualities have been tested over the last two years when our society shifted. You adapted to make the changes and persevere through challenging times. Whether you excelled in a classroom, in a shop, on stage, on the court or on the field, you experienced challenge and disappointment. Instead of throwing in the towel, you accepted the challenge by adapting and persevering. My hope is that you will look back on those times with pride and continue to grow in your experiences.”

Snead told the audience of more than 4,000 guests in attendance that of the Class of 2022, 82 percent will continue their education, attend over 100 colleges in the U.S. and been awarded with over $4.7 million in scholarships.

During her address, entitled “Our Shared Moments,” class Valedictorian Darby Bankowski thanked parents and community members and teachers for their work in helping her and her fellow graduates through the pandemic, which she said, “will prepare us for the rest of our lives.”

She said that being confined to virtual schooling during COVID-19 during her sophomore and junior years made her miss the aspect of high school that she enjoys the most – gathering with her classmates in the hallways between classes.

“After we graduate today, we will not necessarily miss high school, but we will miss the people we have gone through high school with,” Bankowski said. “It’s the people who have been around us who enrich our lives and our experiences. And so as we leave today and as we continue with our lives after Avon Grove, I encourage you to surround yourself with your circle of people – those who make you happy and who challenge you.”

In her speech, entitled “Sharing the Weight of the World,” class Salutatorian Lianna Gardner reflected on the impact of the past two years at the school.

“I wish to share a lesson far more valuable than any I have ever learned in a textbook,” she said. “As I am sure you now recall, when my classmates and I returned in person to school this past August, it was the fist time in over 18 months we were all back together in the same building. Having lost so much to the pandemic, I was struggling. Things that I had gotten used to had become difficult – planning ahead to the assignment deadlines, staying focused and being with friends and family who were internalizing their emotions had become a challenge for me.”

As she and her fellow classmates have successfully emerged from the pandemic, Gardner encouraged them to not be afraid to be vulnerable.

“Have the courage to ask for help and to own your mistakes,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and to speak your mind, but knowing that to do so will require compassion and empathy.”

Senior speakers also included Jessica Ambrocio Tomas and Kshitij Kochar.

The ceremony’s processional was performed by the school’s Graduation Band, under the direction of Michael Davino; and the Chorale Department Ensemble, under the direction of Amanda Wilcox, performed “Omnia Sol” and the school’s alma mater at the conclusion of the ceremony.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].