In September of last year, Jefferson Township HS principal Dr. Timothy Plotts declared that the theme for the 2016-17 school year was "You can't hide from Falcon Pride." Last Tuesday there wasn't even the slightest attempt to hide that pride as a large, festive, and enthusiastic crowd gathered at the football stadium to celebrate the JTHS graduating class of 2017. From the opening musical offerings of the JTHS band through the ceremonial tossing of the graduation caps at the end of the ceremony, everyone in attendance did their all to give the 251 graduates a send-off they'll never forget.
After the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, Halle Music, the Salutatorian of the Class of '17, set the tone for the evening with a warm and wonderful speech in which she thanked those in attendance as well as remembering the iconic "Cow on Weldon Road" for making her years at JTHS so memorable. Music, who will go on to study biology and philosophy at the University of Scranton on a pre-med track, spoke of how the graduates will now enter a new chapter in their lives being open to learning through experiences. She quoted Mr. Marc Gaydos of the JTHS Science department who said "...not to burn bridges because you never know when you'll have to walk over them again," adding that grads should focus on the now and not project.
Shaun Bishop, the Valedictorian of the graduating class, next addressed the crowd with an inspiring speech, the themes of which were to never give up and how the graduates can make a difference in the world. Bishop, who was honored by the Jefferson Township Chamber of Commerce with the Doris Roberts Business Scholarship in April and will major in Finance and Wealth Management at FDU-Madison in the Fall, quoted the late North Carolina State University basketball coach Jimmy Valvano and the US Navy Seals in illustrating no matter how much you may think you've been beaten, you should never give up because as the Seals' motto states, "when you think you're done, you're only 40% done." He also stressed how it isn't enough to just point out problems but people need to step up and fix them in order to leave the world a better place for generations to come. Bishop concluded his speech by reminding the graduates to take the time to tell their friends what they mean to them and to remember where they came from which brought a majestic round of applause from the crowd.
After the JTHS Chamber Chorus' inspiring playing of "Choose Something Like a Star" by Robert Frost and Randall Thompson, Jefferson Township Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Patrick Tierney, addressed those in attendance by celebrating the JTHS class of 2017 and the culmination of their experience in the Jefferson School System. Dr. Tierney advised the class that "your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life." Dr. Tierney was followed on the dais by Dr. Plotts, who officially presented the JTHS graduating class of 2017 to the audience. Dr. Plotts reiterated the theme of "You can't Hide from Falcon Pride" and pointed out how some of the members of the class would be attending some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country, some would be defending our country in military service and some would be going directly into the world to start their working careers while exhorting them to not accept the status quo and recalling the advice of former President John Quincy Adams to dream more, learn more, and do more.
Following JTHS Board of Education President Jill Van Ness' acceptance and recognition of the graduating class, it was time for each graduate to come forward and accept their diplomas. This was where Falcon pride truly took center stage as each individual member of the class was greeted with joyful shouts of praise, rolling bursts of applause, and even the occasional blasts from an air horn in a final send-off from the community which will be impossible to forget.
When the final diploma was handed out, it was time to bring the event to a close with the singing of the JTHS Alma Mater and the iconic tossing of caps into the air, followed by the recessional playing of James Curnow's "Land of Tomorrow" by the band as the 2017 graduating class of Jefferson Township High School left the field one last time to the welcoming arms of their family and friends.
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