EHS gets its outdoor ceremony at 119th commencement
Mostly sunny skies and 77-degree temperatures greeted exiting seniors and their guests at Ephrata High School’s Class of 2014 commencement ceremony on June 5.
The 119th commencement at Ephrata War Memorial Field completed a changing of the guard at both at the high school and district level.
Dr. Brian Troop finished his first full year as district superintendent. It was also the first year for assistant superintendent Richard Hornberger, and EHS assistant principal Scott Galen. This was also the first commencement for assistant high school principal Jill Kling, who arrived in April.
In his remarks to the Class of 2014, Troop recognized the excellence represented by the field of purple-robed graduates.
“As I look out over this fine collection of Mountaineers, I see members of a class that has earned recognition in many ways. We have band, chorus, orchestra county, district, regional, and state performers; science fair medalists; scholastic writing and scholastic art award winners; FFA competition winners; athletic and academic all-stars; essay contest winners, published authors, a national merit scholar finalist, and recipients of over $1.2 million in scholarships and awards,” said Troop.
“Also, I see a group of students whose overall academic performance helped Ephrata High School earn a medal on the US News and World report ranking of best High Schools in the nation for the last three years and, even more impressive, a group who helped raise thousands of dollars each year for the Four Diamonds Fund to fight pediatric cancer.”
Troop said that the list of accomplishments of the Class of 2014 was clear evidence that the district is on the right track in creating what is termed the “whole child.”
“The term ‘whole child’ is used to capture the idea that our role as educators is not just to produce students armed with the knowledge and skills to pass a test — but to also instill within them the compassion and wisdom to positively impact the world,” added Troop.
He went on to speak about two important concepts: courage and preparation.
“The courage I am referring to is authentic courage not the kind that people often fake or that is perceived as arrogance,” stated Troop. “It is that feeling you have when you walk into a situation knowing that you have put in the hours of rehearsal, the blood, sweat, and tears, the late nights studying so that you know you are not only going to succeed – but you are going to “own it.” You see, having true courage is only possible once you know that you have prepared.”
With regard to preparation, Troop said that the credits earned prepared the students in the academic sense.
However, he added that “The traits that you have identified within yourself through your experience, like resiliency, work-ethic, courage, risk-taking and dedication – the kind of things we associate with the ‘Ephrata Mountaineer’- are the same insights that will enable you to make your dreams a reality.”
Troop also challenged the class to take to heart some of the same advise they had suggested for future high school freshman.
He rattled off examples of good advice: “be yourself,” “build relationships,” “work hard,”get involved,” and “don’t procrastinate” which are “for not just success in Ephrata High School but for life in general.”
The changing of the guard theme was also bittersweet in that it marked the retirement of EHS principal Joane Eby after eight years of service to the district. The district hired Galen as the new principal upon her retirement.
During his remarks, Troop recognized Eby for her leadership.
“This is not the appropriate place to get into how much she has meant to the district,” Troop said. “I know that her unique blend of elegance, wisdom and class will be missed.”
In all, 296 students walked in the graduation ceremony, but according to Eby, that did not represent the entire graduating class. She explained that the total number of candidates for graduation was set at 335. However, not all those graduating chose to walk in the ceremony. In addition, there are some who will complete their requirements during the summer and as of yet have not received their diplomas.
Grace Chon was named class valedictorian with an impressive grade point average of 4.474. Thirty six students graduated with academic excellence, having earned a weighted GPA of 3.5.
In all,107 seniors graduated with honors (GPA 3.0), academic excellence (GPA 3.5), cum laude (GPA 3.75) or summa cum laude (GPA 4.0). \\
The daughter of Ephrata Borough residents Dr. Il Jun Chon and Joyce Chon, Grace Chon spoke of her impressive rewards Ephrata High Schools helped achieve.
“I was involved in nearly everything music in and out of class,” commented Chon. “I took concert orchestra for four years, played in the pit orchestra for the spring musical, and participated in festival orchestras from the county to national level. I also teach elementary students privately as a kind of part-time job.”
In her speech, Chon challenged her class, saying, “It’s never too early or too late to begin to work hard at something you love or want to do, and we must learn to have the courage to do so.”
While Chon’s accomplishments are impressive, she remains humble.
“I’d really like to emphasize how there are many very accomplished individuals who are just as qualified to give the same speech as valedictorian at the EHS Class of 2014 graduation,” she said.
In the fall she will be attending the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University’s main campus. She is planning on majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology on a pre-medicine track in addition to a double major in music performance for cello. She said she hopes to apply to medical school after her undergraduate studies and become a pediatrician.
Kole DeHaven, class vice president, was also a speaker. The son of Bob and Deb DeHaven, he resides in Stevens, PA.
DeHaven led a busy life during high school, yet still managed to perform well academically. Besides being class vice president, he was on student council, a three-time LL-League first team all-star during the four years he played varsity soccer, and was a Rec Center instructor.
“When you truly want success, you’ll never give up on it, no matter how bad the situation may get,” DeHaven stressed in his speech. “Life is short, live it. The only thing you live to regret are the risks you didn’t take.”
DeHaven’s enthusiasm and optimism are quiet evident.
“Rule number one of life: Do what makes you happy,” said DeHaven. “The biggest failure you can have in life is making the mistake of never trying at all.”
After high school, DeHaven will be attending Penn State Abington, playing soccer and majoring in pre-med to become a doctor. He added that and day he hopes to be involved in cancer research.
The class motto was a quote by Andre Gide: “We cannot discover new oceans unless we have courage to lose site of the shore.”
Class president Kayla Good spoke about the meaning of the class motto, challenging her classmates to seek out new territory.
“I focused on the aspect of actually having to step away from the shore, of making a conscious choice to lose sight of the shore,” explained Good. “If you just let the waves take you, who knows where you will end up. One must leave the shore with intentionality and a purpose, with courage to continue.”
The daughter of Jay L. and Christine A. Good of Stevens, Good lead an active and busy high school career.
“I work part time at Dairy Queen of Ephrata, and also at Abercrombie & Fitch in Park City,” added Good. “I was Class President and was involved in National Honors Society, Spanish National Honors Society, and Cloisterette [yearbook] this past year.”
This fall Good will attend the Robert E. Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, to major in interior design. She said she has not decided on a minor yet, but is considering business or Spanish.
“I didn’t include this portion in my speech for respect of other religious beliefs that may have been present, but I strongly believe that God will direct your sails, so to speak, if you allow Him to do so,” said Good. “He is the sole giver of true, authentic courage.”
The final speaker was Kierstin Reichard. In her speech, she quoted an excerpt from The Prelude of William Wadsworth’s autobiography.
“Our class motto: ‘We cannot discover new oceans unless we have courage to lose sight of the shore,’ reminds one of Wordsworth’s words,” said Reichard. “He symbolically relates how every person must encounter the largest and more impacting storm of life: growing up.
Wordsworth himself had embarked from his shore of a protected life to a sea of wonders and questions.”
Reichard challenged her fellow classmates to embrace the journey rather than shrink from it, saying that the trials and challenges are inevitable but reminded them they will always have someone standing behind them to encourage them to keep standing.
‘The trials will be tiresome, but the rewards will provide a bountiful catch,” said Reichard. ‘We each will return from our journey greatly changed. We will return home with college degrees, stable
jobs, and plenty of stories to tell. But we can only bring back these tales of adventure if we first set out. Wordsworth found the courage necessary to embark on his journey, so now open your sails and start your journey too. This is the time. This is the time of our lives.’
For additional information on Ephrata Area School District, please visit their website at easdpa.org.
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