SAYRE — It was a family celebration inside the Lockhart Street Bowl on Friday night as 75 students graduated from Sayre High School.

“This speech is titled ‘family.’ What is family? Good question. Family is something that is never-ending ... a bond for life,” Class of 2019 valedictorian James Esposito told the crowd. “You, my fellow classmates, are my second family. We are forever connected by this school and the memories that we all shared together throughout our years here.”

While the night was about the 75 students getting ready to head out into the real world, it was also about the people that helped them get there, Esposito said.

“My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and my brother, all whom I had the pleasure of growing up around ... I’d like to thank all of you for molding me into the man I am today,” Esposito said.

“And last but not least, my mother. I know I don’t say thank you enough, but there isn’t enough time to give you the thanks you deserve,” Esposito continued. “Losing a husband of 17 years is a pain no woman should have to feel. Let’s face it, raising two unruly kids is hard enough. You are the strongest person I know ... I hope dad is looking down on us and proud of what a wonderful family you have raised. I love you.”

Salutatorian Stephanie Klovekorn used her speech to talk about something the Class of 2019 first learned in elementary school — stop, drop and roll.

“Although not all of us attended Snyder, I am confident in saying that we all learned one common thing while in elementary school ... if our clothes were ever to catch on fire — stop, drop and roll,” Klovekorn said. “Now, as important as this is to remember, it thankfully did not happen as much as the teachers made it seem so instead I will leave you with some helpful meanings to go along with the phrase for you to carry with you in the future.”

The first lesson was to stop and take a deep breath, Klovekorn told her classmates.

“As we are finally headed into the real world, things may become overwhelming at times. As much as we have all wanted high school to be over, growing up comes with it’s own responsibilities,” she said. “In difficult times, it is important to remember to stop, take a step back and breathe. Then you can regroup, ask for help and tackle the problem at hand.”

The second message was to not be afraid to try something new.

“As many of us have learned, people change, including yourself, but there is nothing wrong with that,” the salutatorian continued. “Now is the time in our lives where we get to define who we are, so try new things, take chances and faith that everything will work out exactly how it is supposed to — the world is ours for the taking.”

Finally, don’t wait to chase your dreams, Klovekorn told the Class of 2019.

“Now, roll ... you can plan as much as you want, down to the second even, but plans can easily become blinders. Staying flexible allows for new opportunities, new friendships and new experiences you may never have imagined before,” she said. “Do not wait for tomorrow or summer or next year to get started on chasing your dreams. Your life is now, so be confident and just roll with it.”

Class of 2019 President Luke Cowder spoke about realizing his time at Sayre High was actually over.

“The amount of times we have all said ‘I can’t wait to graduate’ is too much to count at this point. But now that we’re finally here, I realized how quickly time really passes,” Cowder said. “I’ve come to realize how you have to live in the moment and not wish your time away because before you know it, you’ll look around and won’t recognize the ones around you. So take in life one moment at a time such as now because guys — we did it.”

Cowder closed the 2019 graduation ceremony with a well-known quote from fictional Cornell University graduate and Dunder Mifflin paper salesman Andy Bernard.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in ‘the good old days’ before you’ve actually left them.”

The “good old days” the class of 2019 had at Sayre High may be over, but their future begins now.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or editor@morning-times.com. Follow the Morning Times on Twitter @Morning_Times.

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