First Posted: 6/12/2013
PITTSTON AREA’S graduating class got a final lesson. At the 47th annual commencement Tuesday night, Superintendent Michael Garzella told the graduates of the Japanese Moso bamboo, the fastestgrowing tree on Earth.
“Once the seed is planted, there is no visible growth for approximately a decade,” Garzella said. “But suddenly, years after the seed had been planted, the tree begins to grow at an accelerated rate of 2 ½ feet per day until it reaches the height of 90 feet in a 6-week period.”
But the time underground, before the growth spurt, is what Garzella focused on.
“What is not visible is what happens below the surface,” Garzella said. “In this decade of growth, the Moso plant has been cultivating a massive system of roots. You are much like that tree.”
He said family, church and school have helped the graduates cultivate their roots.
“Today, you begin that rapid growth following four years of sprouting roots,” Garzella said.
Garzella, Pittston Area School Board President Charles Sciandra and High School Principal John Haas awarded 221 students their diplomas on a beautiful evening outside in Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
Graduates were clad in gowns of school colors; the girls in white and the boys in blue and red. The National Anthem was sung by Kristen Santey. The class poem, The Journey, was read and written by Alexandria Serafin. The class song, “100 Years” by Five for Fighting, was sung by Marina Sell.
Class president Matthew Shamnoski compared success to a white tuxedo.
“You feel terrific when you get it, but they you’re desperately afraid of getting it dirty or soiling it in any way,” Shamnoski said. “Please do not fear failure, but learn from it. With each lesson learned, that white tuxedo can only get whiter and more pristine.”
Sciandra said Pittston Area grads are known, throughout the country, for being hard-working and dependable.
“As other proud graduates who have passed through these doors, you will have the same tenacity and resilience to overcome any obstacle.”
Each of the eight valedictorians addressed the class. The eight were Maria Capitano, Anthony Capozucca, Austin Kostelansky, Kristen Lobardo, Cassandra Nocito, Suraj Pursnani, Miranda Warunek and Matthew Yatison.
Pursnani said his school built a solid foundation.
“As these 13 long years of education come to an end and we receive our diplomas, we realaize that these have been the best days of our lives. We have accomplished great things, learned valuable lessons and made friendships that will last a lifetime.
Yatison thanked all the people that helped the class succeed.
“No one up here tonight, including myself, would be present without the support that exists in an interconnected society,” Yatison said. “We receive aid from our parents, family, teachers and friends. When we fell down, they picked us up and encouraged us to go on. That help was catalyst that made us thrive and flourish into the people that we are today.”
Lombardo compared each student to a painter with a blank canvas. “But slowly a picture began to form.”
Strokes on that canvas included freshman orientation, Sweet 16 parties, sports, school activities, SATs, college applications, prom, yearbooks, homecoming, final exams, college decisions and Senior-palooza.
I present to you 224 original works of art. We are painters passing through, each striving to create an individual masterpiece. We are the Class of 2013.
The school year was marked with tragedy as two students, a junior and a sophomore, committed suicide less than a week apart. “But together, we persevered and our bonds became even stronger,” Lombardo said.
Capozucca talked about the clubs, organizations and sports that helped student become leaders.
“We all found our niche and stuck with it,” he said. “From National Honor Society to the Technology Club, Pittston Area has a wide range of clubs and is represented in numerous ways.”
“From helping out at a food bank to cleaning up a highway, Pittston Area has earned a reputation as a school that does great things.”
Kostelansky his classmates are all adults now and should focus on moving forward.
“As we go out into the world, we must remember the important things we were taught in life: how to be independent, how to be diligent, and how to mature properly.”
Maria Capitano said the knowledge of conjugation of French verbs won’t stay with them, but memories will remain.
“We’ve spent some of the best days of our lives together and shared what were undoubtedly some of the most difficult,” she said. “And for that I am thankful.”
Warunek spoke of success.
“It’s not about what kind of car you drive or how much money you make,” she said. “It is not about how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you get up.”
She said as grads make their way forward, success will come in different forms.
“We can succeed in anything, as long as we have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make it a realistic plan and the will to see that plan through to the end,” she said.
Cassandra Nocito praised the school spirit.
“From cheering on all our teams in pep squads, to proudly showing off our school colors wherever we went, we are Pittston Area,” she said. “We wear red white and blue and we will forever be proud Patriots.”
Superintendent Garzella graduated from Pittston Area 43 years ago. “You will always be Patriots and your roots run deep.”