Bethlehem Press

Monday, August 20, 2018
PRESS Photos by Douglas GravesLehigh Valley Academy graduates decorated their mortar board caps in anticipation for the graduation ceremony. PRESS Photos by Douglas GravesLehigh Valley Academy graduates decorated their mortar board caps in anticipation for the graduation ceremony.
Graduate Xavier Lopez speaks to his fellow students as the student council president. He plans to attend Northampton Community College and major in sports medicine and rehabilitation sciences. Graduate Xavier Lopez speaks to his fellow students as the student council president. He plans to attend Northampton Community College and major in sports medicine and rehabilitation sciences.
Student Speaker Rowan Rezq speaks at Zoellner Arts Center. Miss Rezq plans to attend Pennsylvania State University and major in electrical engineering. Student Speaker Rowan Rezq speaks at Zoellner Arts Center. Miss Rezq plans to attend Pennsylvania State University and major in electrical engineering.
Lehigh Valley Academy students listening to the ceremonies at Zoellner Arts Center for their 2018 graduation. Lehigh Valley Academy students listening to the ceremonies at Zoellner Arts Center for their 2018 graduation.

LV REGIONAL ACADEMY ‘Show them who you are’

Monday, June 4, 2018 by Katya Hrichak Special to the Bethlehem Press in School

“What does it mean to be a high school graduate?” Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter HS (LVA) CEO Susan Mauser asked members of the class of 2018 as they sat in the Zoellner Arts Center auditorium May 29, eagerly awaiting their diplomas. “What does this piece of paper that they will be receiving this evening stand for?”

The Profile of a Lehigh Valley Academy Graduate document states that a LVA graduate must be a critical and creative thinker with knowledge spanning a variety of disciplines, a lifelong learner capable of pursuing goals and contributing to a diverse society and a caring, reflective, open-minded and accepting individual. According to Mauser, each of the 71 graduates of the class of 2018 met those standards.

“The world is always changing, so you have many opportunities to grow and develop. Set your goals high and learn from your challenges as well as your successes. You can make a difference. Every voice counts,” she told the soon-to-be-graduates.

Throughout the course of the ceremony, faculty and administration offered students of LVA’s 10th graduating class a list of expectations and advice to help them navigate through their futures, many of which would begin with higher education and lead into the professional world.

Junior/Senior High School Principal Jennifer Nonnemacher reminded students that “graduation provides you a beginning to anything you want,” urging students to remember the ideals of a LVA graduate as they pursue their passions.

“Put everything you have into reaching your dreams. Don’t hold back. Run after those dreams with everything you have and attack them with motivation and charisma,” she said. “I know no matter what your next step is that if you keep an open mind and keep learning and trying to better yourselves that you will continue to grow into wonderful adults. I have high hopes and dreams for this class.”

Echoing Nonnemacher, Board of Trustees President Martin Smith told students, “As a class and as individuals, you have already done amazing things, and I am certain that you will continue to do amazing things in your career and in your lives,” citing the class of 2018’s compassion and concern for others as an important factor distinguishing them from the world today and setting them up for success.

When Andrew Hall, DP coordinator, took the stage, he asked students to listen and reflect carefully on the speeches they had heard so far and the speeches they had yet to hear, reminding them that the messages were full of importance and wisdom that would help guide them through their lives.

“I want you to pause for a minute and put the anticipation on hold,” he told the students. “Graduation speeches are supposed to impart some wisdom to the graduates, so that is what I plan on doing now.”

In his address, Hall listed his top 11 pieces of advice for new graduates. He urged them to take the time to want something, to live in the moment, to show up and take risks, to do more activities that encourage not incessantly checking phone notifications, to surround themselves with others who challenge and support them, to acquire grit, to develop a thick skin and sense of humor, to take into consideration the paths that led to others’ successes, to let positive rather than negative qualities rule their lives and decision making and to not put off dreams until tomorrow.

“Whatever it is you want, go out and do it. Remember, you may have to work at it and wait for it, but that will only make it so much more rewarding when you get wherever it is you want to go. That list, my students, is my advice to you. Take it and go out into the world and show them who you are,” Hall said.

Student Council President Xavier Lopez and student speaker Rowan Rezq lightened the mood and made their fellow graduates laugh as they reflected on the years they shared together and the experiences they had along the way.

“Here we are, ready to graduate. We worked so hard to get to this point. No one can possibly imagine the amount of work we had to do or the amount of acronyms we had to memorize,” Rezq said, accompanied by laughter from her peers.

The presentation of special awards followed the student speakers, with Mauser recognizing the 16 students who had attended LVA since kindergarten. Before the students sitting in the auditorium then received their diplomas, a special diploma was presented.

Although she lost her battle to pediatric cancer a decade ago, the students and faculty of LVA did not forget Kristin Kuser. Because Kuser was not able to participate in the 2018 graduation ceremony along with her peers, her parents and sister were welcomed onstage to accept a diploma on her behalf, reminding everyone of the large impact she had in her short life.

Following this presentation and the senior class video, the class of 2018 one by one received their diplomas and officially became high school graduates.

“I want you guys to remember these three things, which are what you are doing, why you are doing [it], and who you are doing it for,” Lopez said. “If any class can accomplish goals in life, it’s the class of 2018.”