More than 200 receive diplomas at 50th Pittston Area commencement


By Nick Wagner - nwagner@timesleader.com



Pittston Area senior Iana Davis performed the National Anthem as well as leading the benediction at the completion of graduation.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

One of the valedictorian speakers, Samuel Lizza, recited an open letter to senior parents at the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Marley O’Brien, one of the valedictorians speaks during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

The class song is performed by Sara Swartz, left, and Taylor Baloga during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Honors with distinction senior Robert D’Eliseo accepts his diploma from Board President Kent Bratlee during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Senior graduate Kayleigh Valeski accepted her diploma from aunt and Pittston Area faculty member Rebecca Valeski during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Robert D’Eliseo celebrates graduation with parents Brenda and Ron Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Robert D’Eliseo proudly displays his diploma at the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area High School Principal John Haas takes a selfie with seniors prior to the graduation ceremony Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

John Haas, Pittston Area High School principal, leads the seniors in front of the stands filled with family and friends through a double line of the school’s faculty cheering them on.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Trumpet soloist Micheal Elko plays during the call to colors during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.


Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Video:

Source: Nick Wagner | Sunday Dispatch

The Pittston Area Class of 2016 was part of the schoo’s 50th commencement on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.

The Eye of the Storm

It starts as a tempest.

Full of turmoil and disturbance,

Smooth seas does not a good sailor make.

View adversity as a gift.

Our hardships leave us battle ready,

Eventually the storm hits.

Mistakes should not define you,

Reaction is the true test.

Life is a choice.

Change cannot be escaped.

Tides crashing and receding,

Challenges are faced.

Dawn breaks through,

The sky becomes bright,

Seas are finally clear.

Now we see the light.

A time of reflection begins,

Life is new again.

Molly Walsh

PA Class of 2016

YATESVILLE — The road to graduation wasn’t the smoothest for Pittston Area graduate Robert D’Eliseo, but you wouldn’t know it after spending a few moments with him.

When Robert was diagnosed with autism at age 2, doctors told the family he would need a harness and medication. The family decided not to take that route and began to learn more about the developmental disorder. The decision paid off, and after all of the hard work and dedication to his education, Robert shared one of his proudest moments with his family Thursday night.

Robert was awarded his high school diploma, along with 242 of his classmates, at the 50th Pittston Area commencement inside Charley Trippi Stadium.

“I was waiting to get this,” Robert said as he held up his diploma while taking photos with family and friends. “It feels good. I’m going to put it in my memory box.”

Ron and Brenda D’Eliseo, Robert’s parents, founded the Earthly Angels Autism Fund of the Luzerne Foundation in 2000 after Robert was diagnosed with autism. In the last 16 years, the fund has raised more than $200,000 for families and children living with autism. The foundation stemmed from the family’s first fundraiser, Ride For Robert, which raised around $40,000.

As a senior, Robert earned honors with distinction. Robert, the youngest of three children, is the third child of Ron and Brenda to graduate from Pittston Area.

In January, the graduate helped the Pittston Area wrestling team raise $1,200 for the foundation during a wrestling match against Wallenpaupack.

Going forward, Robert has aspirations to work at Pittston Area — his love for the school is profound. He’ll miss the familiar faces at the school, which is one of the reasons he wants to come back.

“I’m sad I’m graduating because I will miss my friends,” he said. “I’m happy because school is over and there is no more homework.”

He also had thanks for his parents.

“They helped me with everything,” Robert said.

Appreciation was a large part of the ceremony, as each valedictorian wrote letters of thanks to read on graduation night.

Pittston Area had nine valedictorians speak during commencement: Alyssa Bukevicz, Tara Johnson, Samuel Lizza, Katherine Musto, Haley Norwillo, Marley O’Brien, Eric Petroski, Alana Platukus and Julie Silinskie.

They had words of thanks to their family and friends, classmates, their teachers, their coaches and moderators, to their past selves, to the adversity they faced, and to their future selves.

Lizza opened the speech by reminding his fellow classmates to not forget the little things, such as the dress code or school lunches.

“Take a deep breath for all the things that come with graduating high school are over,” he said. “We need to think about the good, little things we will not get to experience.”

Johnson wrote a letter to “freshman Tara.” She reminded herself she would make it through her early math classes and that freshman aren’t supposed to look good.

Bukevicz had a message to her classmates.

“We are all part of each other’s past and possibly future,” she said. “Through the hard times and the happy times, we were there for each other. Our classmates will be one of the most important factors of our lives.”

Musto said the teachers have played a big role in the development of herself and her classmates.

“We’ve formed so many close bonds with our teachers,” she said. “Sometimes we forget they are teachers and call them by their first name, right Judy? I mean Mrs. Greenwald.”

Silinskie had a message for the class’ parents and family. She reminded her classmates it’s time for them to do their own homework.

“You have been there for us through it all,” she said. “Thank you for pushing us to do our best and reminding us how important school is.”

O’Brien had a letter to coaches and moderators. She said it’s not about the wins and losses.

“You are the real MVP,” she said. “Without you none of our accomplishments would exist.”

Musto, the class president, opened the commencement by thanking the seniors’ parents.

“Without you, our loved ones, we wouldn’t be able to succeed,” she said. “Each of us have made a mark on the school, which will not soon be forgotten. Remember to always keep that Patriot pride.”

Superintendent Kevin Booth shared the story of the 1980 U.S. hockey team, which beat the Soviet Union in the Olympics. He referred to the 2,300 days of school the students have endured over the pasted decade. He quoted U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks.

“Great moments are born from great opportunities,” Booth said.

He also reminded students to not settle for being average.

“Whatever you decided to do, don’t be average, don’t settle,” he said. “Be the best.”

The class song is “My Wish,” which was performed by Taylor Baloga on vocals and the acoustic guitar, Sara Swartz on vocals and Sean Guziewicz on the electric guitar. Iana Davis sang the National Anthem, and Julia Stella led the seniors in Pittston Area’s alma mater song. Ryan Davis and Kyle Petroski led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance to start the ceremony.

To donate to Earthly Angels, mail a check payable to “Earthly Angels Autism Fund” to 32 Huckleberry Lane, Duryea, PA 18642. For more information email info@earthlyangels.org.

Pittston Area senior Iana Davis performed the National Anthem as well as leading the benediction at the completion of graduation.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-4.jpgPittston Area senior Iana Davis performed the National Anthem as well as leading the benediction at the completion of graduation.Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

One of the valedictorian speakers, Samuel Lizza, recited an open letter to senior parents at the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-5.jpgOne of the valedictorian speakers, Samuel Lizza, recited an open letter to senior parents at the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Marley O’Brien, one of the valedictorians speaks during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-6.jpgMarley O’Brien, one of the valedictorians speaks during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

The class song is performed by Sara Swartz, left, and Taylor Baloga during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-7.jpgThe class song is performed by Sara Swartz, left, and Taylor Baloga during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Honors with distinction senior Robert D’Eliseo accepts his diploma from Board President Kent Bratlee during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-8.jpgHonors with distinction senior Robert D’Eliseo accepts his diploma from Board President Kent Bratlee during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Senior graduate Kayleigh Valeski accepted her diploma from aunt and Pittston Area faculty member Rebecca Valeski during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-9.jpgSenior graduate Kayleigh Valeski accepted her diploma from aunt and Pittston Area faculty member Rebecca Valeski during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Robert D’Eliseo celebrates graduation with parents Brenda and Ron Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-10.jpgRobert D’Eliseo celebrates graduation with parents Brenda and Ron Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Robert D’Eliseo proudly displays his diploma at the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-11.jpgRobert D’Eliseo proudly displays his diploma at the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Pittston Area High School Principal John Haas takes a selfie with seniors prior to the graduation ceremony Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-1.jpgPittston Area High School Principal John Haas takes a selfie with seniors prior to the graduation ceremony Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

John Haas, Pittston Area High School principal, leads the seniors in front of the stands filled with family and friends through a double line of the school’s faculty cheering them on.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-2.jpgJohn Haas, Pittston Area High School principal, leads the seniors in front of the stands filled with family and friends through a double line of the school’s faculty cheering them on. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Trumpet soloist Micheal Elko plays during the call to colors during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_PA-2016-Graduation-3.jpgTrumpet soloist Micheal Elko plays during the call to colors during the 2016 Pittston Area High School graduation Thursday evening at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

By Nick Wagner

nwagner@timesleader.com

The Eye of the Storm

It starts as a tempest.

Full of turmoil and disturbance,

Smooth seas does not a good sailor make.

View adversity as a gift.

Our hardships leave us battle ready,

Eventually the storm hits.

Mistakes should not define you,

Reaction is the true test.

Life is a choice.

Change cannot be escaped.

Tides crashing and receding,

Challenges are faced.

Dawn breaks through,

The sky becomes bright,

Seas are finally clear.

Now we see the light.

A time of reflection begins,

Life is new again.

Molly Walsh

PA Class of 2016

Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick

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Video Caption: The Pittston Area Class of 2016 was part of the schoo’s 50th commencement on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at Charley Trippi Stadium in Yatesville.
Video Credit: Nick Wagner | Sunday Dispatch

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Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick

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