‘This is where we started’
While the night air grew chilly the evening of June 8, the celebration of memories, relationships and accomplishments warmed the auditorium at Saucon Valley HS, where the class of 2019 took the stage to say goodbye.
Promptly at 7 p.m., Dr. Michael Krentz ushered the class into the auditorium with an organ rendition of Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.”
While the majority of the class took their seats on the stage, six graduates entering the military stood front and center to be introduced by Principal Tamara Gary. Entering the Navy are Dominic Bracalente Jr., Jan Flores-Ortiz and Mary Johnson. Joining the Marines are Jarrod Spradlin and Tyler Schulte. Finally, entering the Coast Guard is Connor Lettich. Kretz then conducted the Saucon Valley HS Chorus in a performance of the National Anthem, with the crowd on its feet.
Class President Evangelos Hahalis welcomed and thanked all family, friends and faculty for bolstering the class through the years, and congratulated his fellow graduates on a job well done.
“In all my years at Saucon, I don’t think I’ve seen a more dedicated, driven class,” Hahalis said. He recapped the slew of district and state athletic championships and accolades in music and art achieved this year alone by individual members of his class or as part of larger teams.
Valedictorian Nayana Pandey summed up the last four years in the relationships and unique, defining experiences shared between her and her fellow graduates.
She wondered further at how best to measure greatness, quoting Shakespeare, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.’
“Greatness is not measured by fame or fortune, but by the lives we touch,” she concluded. “Never forget to keep making memories and cherish the ones you have.”
Salutatorian Sydney Oskin encouraged her classmates to leave their comfort zones as they enter this next chapter, to take risks, try new things and never stop growing. “I hope I see you all back here in a few years with a thousand new stories to tell.”
Hahalis then recognized his classmates with high honors, including the top 10 percent of the class, National Merit Scholars, and National Merit Finalists, award and scholarship winners and all those who participated in athletics and extra-curricular activities.
Superintendent Dr. Craig Butler segued from these numerous recognitions into comments on the exceptional tenacity and work ethic of the class. “This is apparent by your achievements in athletics, fine arts, community service and, most of all, empathy for one another. Thank you for bringing such pride and commitment to Saucon Valley, and for making my first two years here a success.”
Class Secretary Zoe Zaharakis introduced eight 50-year graduates in the audience from the class of 1969. These graduates are Rebecca Finkbeiner, William Frey, Peggy Laubach, Jane Moyer, Marlene Stana, Carol Tavormina, Nancy Vasko and Robert Vasko. The class of 1969 graduated from what was then Hellertown HS at 1050 Main St., where students attended from 1931 to 1970. The building is now Saucon Valley Manor.
Student-selected faculty speaker was Jeremy Kittek, class advisor and U.S. history and AP psychology teacher. He explained he is a husband and father of four young children who love the movie Megamind, a story about a supervillain who must choose to pursue a life of crime as he was born to do, or give it up to become a hero. A particular line struck him: “‘Destiny is not the path given to us, but the path we choose ourselves.’
“I had always associated destiny with fate, chance, or luck, but not my own control,” said Kittek. He described the choice he made 10 years ago when he accepted a long-term, part-time substituting position at Saucon Valley that led to his current career “and to me being with you today,” he said.
“You will make choices every day that might seem small, but will impact your life. You are responsible for getting to your goals. Know that every choice defines who you are and where you will be, and I hope you leave Saucon Valley knowing you have the skills to choose your own destiny.”
Class Secretary Zoe Zaharakis described her class as a determined community that pushed each other to achieve big things and shared a lot of memories and iconic events along the way.
“We all cared about Saucon in one way or another. We all played for Saucon,” she said. “Remember, this is where we started – a place where people care and know you, and a place to come back to, to reminisce.”