MORAVIAN ACADEMY ‘To inlay heaven with stars’
Two by two, the eighty smiling graduates of the Moravian Academy class of 2018 proceeded through the crowded athletic center and towards their future. The boys each wore a full suit with a red rose boutonniere, and the girls were breathtaking in all white, each carrying a single red rose. After the students entered, the faculty and trustees followed wearing the academic regalia of their respective alma mater, their graduation hoods forming a rainbow of color behind the graduates.
Following the rich religious tradition of the school, the ceremony began with Reverend Jennifer Nichols offering praise not only God, but to the students, parents, faculty, and staff that made the event possible. She then welcomed class co-presidents Brandon Loftus and Jonathan Riker to the stage to address their fellow class members. Loftus began by speaking about the notion that in your senior year, time truly flies. But for Loftus, life during high school stood still as he fought a battle with leukemia. He spoke of how supportive his classmates and teachers were, in visiting him during his time of need. He again thanked his classmates for hosting a mini-thon in his honor, complete with many of the male students shaving their head in solidarity with him. Now in remission for nearly a full year, Loftus gave his classmates his advice, to always look out for each other, and to live life to the fullest.
Riker next took the stage, and offered up numerous comedic quips that made the audience erupt in laughter. He pretended to read a list of graduation speech clichés, and spoke about his perceived allergy to math homework. He spoke of how the struggle for seniors to focus is really just an anxiousness to start the next chapter of their lives, saying that “our lives’ narrative has begun here” and that they are ready for the next chapters to begin. His speech then took a serious turn; quoting from Shakespeare “they are worthy to inlay heaven with stars” he encouraged his fellow students that they are, in fact, ready to inlay the heavens with their own stars.
Incoming board chair Christopher Weiler then took the stage and shared his excitement at his first graduation ceremony in this new position. He shared his joy, not only because his son Max was graduating, but also because over the past 14 years he watched so many of them start out crying and scared to leave their parents in Pre-K and Kindergarten, to the successful adults they are today. Headmaster Jeffrey M. Zemsky then asked 24 specific students to stand and be recognized as the founding members of the class of 2018, students that began their education at Moravian Academy no later than first grade, and are truly stewards of the Moravian legacy.
Each student was then called on-stage to receive his or her diploma, and also to stand for applause while headmaster Zemsky read a personalized speech crafted for each student, along with their post-graduation plans. The speech’s celebrated not only academics within the classroom, but also traditional extracurricular activities such as sports, theater, music and dance. But for the class of 2018, interests expanded well beyond those of a typical high school student into international travel and study of world languages; philanthropy assisting families from the Lehigh Valley to those with global impact; and research in fields of medicine, robotics, engineering, and more.
Fourteen of the students were joined on stage by their parents or grandparents who were alumni, trustees or teachers at Moravian Academy, echoing the ideal that the school is family oriented. Given the educational background of the faculty and the diverse interests of the student body, it is no surprise that nearly all of the graduates have been accepted to continue their education in college. Two students will be attending Ivy League schools, while 10 of the students will be attending Lehigh or Lafayette, and another 10 will continue on to Penn State, Muhlenberg or Moravian College. In fact, the only student who will not be continuing directly to college was celebrated for her dedication to art and fashion, and has accepted professional employment within those industries. Headmaster Zemsky reflected that success of each student truly reflects the values of the school, “to be, rather than to seem to be.”