Grads urged to cherish each moment

The Quakertown Community High School Class of 2023 advi­sors and stu­dent offi­cers cel­e­brat­ed 383 seniors with words of wis­dom that were at times fun­ny, seri­ous, and often emo­tion­al as fam­i­lies in the packed Alumni Field stands watched and lis­tened with their hearts full and eyes watery.

The 2023 Commencement Ceremony on a beau­ti­ful June 6th evening — except for the smoky air, cour­tesy of the Canadian wild­fires — was the cul­mi­na­tion of a huge week for grad­u­ates. Last week, they were sent off in a big way as the com­mu­ni­ty ral­lied with sup­port in the fourth annu­al Parade of Graduates down Park Avenue and Juniper Street; 15 ath­letes were rec­og­nized in a col­lege sign­ing cer­e­mo­ny; and 103 stu­dents were laud­ed in a spe­cial evening event for receiv­ing $9.3 mil­lion in schol­ar­ship offers. 

In his remarks at the Senior Awards Ceremony, Principal Mattias van ‘t Hoenderdaal said “If there is ever a group that has shown to be adapt­able to what­ev­er life throws at them, it most cer­tain­ly is this cohort of grad­u­at­ing stu­dents.  And as you grad­u­ate, remem­ber the friend­ships you have forged, the lessons you have learned, and the count­less mem­o­ries that will for­ev­er be etched in your hearts.” 

At Tuesday night’s com­mence­ment, the soon-to-be grad­u­ates were urged to live in the now, enjoy the jour­ney, and trea­sure each moment and the peo­ple who love them.

It’s the rela­tion­ships we build that tru­ly mat­ter,” said Sydney Bishop, one of five class offi­cers who spoke from the stage. “The peo­ple in our lives, our friends and fam­i­ly, are the ones who sup­port us, chal­lenge us, and make life worth liv­ing. Take the time to appre­ci­ate and nur­ture these rela­tion­ships. They are the foun­da­tion of a ful­fill­ing life.”

Sydney, Julia Henry, Jessica Kelso, Stone Renshaw, and Tyler Wilkin each shared their thoughts in short speech­es. School Board President Glenn Iosue also had words of encour­age­ment for the grads, as did Class of 2023 advi­sors Darlene Hardy, Jennifer Stover, and Tina Sullivan. 

Instead of look­ing for the next big adven­ture, pause, take a deep breath, and real­ize there is adven­ture to be found in each and every moment,” Ms. Sullivan said. “When you ful­ly real­ize this, you will find joy, and spon­tane­ity, and mag­ic, and won­der, the stuff adven­ture is made of, all around you. Stop and rec­og­nize what is occur­ring right here, right now. Your fam­i­lies, friends, teach­ers and admin­is­tra­tion have gath­ered here to con­grat­u­late you, to cheer you on, to wish you the very best, and to show you just how much they love you. The sta­di­um is buzzing from this mas­sive accu­mu­la­tion of ener­gy. Lemme hear it — show me some of that ener­gy. This cer­e­mo­ny, right now, is an amaz­ing adventure.”

Ms. Hardy had a sim­i­lar theme. “Spend qual­i­ty time with peo­ple who are impor­tant to you. You mat­ter to them and they mat­ter to you. Time is a thief. Put down that phone. Your par­ents have loved you for a long time and want what is best for you and want to see you hap­py, show them they taught you well.”

Mrs. Stover added “The par­ent gen­er­a­tion before us warned that it goes by ‘in the blink of an eye,’ and we nod­ded and dis­missed that absolute truth we behold right here and now. … Your life is a lot like a wan­der­ing, evolv­ing essay.  Don’t pro­cras­ti­nate. Don’t fear it.  Enjoy the time spent along the way.” 

For the 10th con­sec­u­tive year, as each stu­dent walked off the stage they were met at the bot­tom of the steps by Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner, who asked them what they plan to do next. After shak­ing the hands of 4,200 QCHS grad­u­ates, this was Dr. Harner’s final Panther com­mence­ment. “The Class of 2023 will leave an indeli­ble mark and record to aspire to for our won­der­ful Quakertown Panther school com­mu­ni­ty,” he said.

Indeed, in the Class of 2023:

  • 55 earned mem­ber­ship in the National Honor Society
  • Seven earned mem­ber­ship in the National Technical Honor Society
  • 31 achieved Advanced Placement Scholar recog­ni­tion by 11th grade
  • Three earned AP Capstone diplo­mas: Mary Barbour, Sydney Fronheiser, and Darby Vail
  • 11 com­mit­ted to serve in the Armed Forces: Dominic Basile, Katie Catalano, Lacey Cressman, Nathaniel Grebb, Ethan Horning, Brian Kecza, Owen Jaegers, Tyler Nordquist, Jules Sepulveda, Andrew Shaw, and Jacob Wackerman.

Grads enjoyed a fire­works dis­play fol­low­ing the cel­e­bra­to­ry toss­ing of caps into the air. Then it was a mob scene as stu­dents and teach­ers found peo­ple to embrace and soak in the emo­tion­al final moments of their K‑12 stu­dent life. It was a glo­ri­ous night as every­one was enter­tained by the QCHS band and cho­rus, and heard from the stu­dent officers.

Meet new peo­ple, step out of your com­fort zone, ask ques­tions, and turn chal­lenges into oppor­tu­ni­ties,” Stone said. “Just remem­ber this first chap­ter is the step­ping stone to the next. Looking back to pass­ing stan­dard­ized tests, wor­ry­ing about our GPA, com­plet­ing home­work, and writ­ing essays; the things we used to stress over con­stant­ly will look and feel like a piece of cake.” 

Jessica said, “Whatever path we choose, we must remem­ber to stay true to our­selves and to our val­ues. We must remain com­mit­ted to our dreams and aspi­ra­tions, and we must nev­er give up in the face of adversity.”

Julia said, “As we leave these gates one last time as a class, remem­ber what real­ly mat­ters. Always be grate­ful and kind. Be will­ing to try new things because even fail­ure leads to growth. Remain open to new con­nec­tions. Live in the moment. Seize oppor­tu­ni­ties, and make new trea­sured mem­o­ries! The world is yours to reach your unlim­it­ed potential.”

Ty said “As we grew up, our teach­ers felt like friends, friends felt like fam­i­ly, and fam­i­ly felt like home. I know that I have made unfor­get­table mem­o­ries, and I hope you all have to.” 

In his thought­ful com­ments, Mr. Iosue, the Board pres­i­dent, said to remem­ber the word CARE: Curious, Adventurous, Resourceful and Educated. He con­clud­ed with “Celebrate your wins. Pick your­self up when your down and try again. Learn to achieve your own great­ness in life and pur­suit of hap­pi­ness. Know that your fam­i­ly, friends, and teach­ers CARE for you. We wish you the best on your future journeys.

And from ‘Life’s Little Instruction Book,’ with sug­ges­tions on how to live a hap­py and

reward­ing life, the last sug­ges­tion is one of the best, ‘Call your Mother.’ ”