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Lehighton students are in charge of their destiny

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    Addison Howland, Lehighton Area High School Class of 2019 president, prepares to throw his cap in the air at the end of commencement on Friday night. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS

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    Jordyn Zwetolitz, Lehighton Area High School Class of 2019 salutatorian, addresses her classmates during commencement on Friday.

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    Evan Beers crosses the stage to receive his diploma from Lehighton Area School District director Wayne Wentz during commencement on Friday.

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    Addison Howland, Lehighton Area High School Class of 2019 president, reacts as caps are tossed in the air during commencement on Friday.

Published June 15. 2019 05:46AM


Success means something different to each high school graduate. The next step could include higher education, service in the Armed Forces, or entrance into the workforce.

Whatever the future may hold, Isabella Baka, Lehighton Area High School’s Class of 2019 valedictorian, encouraged her classmates to go after it with all their heart.

“You are the only person in charge of your destiny,” Baka told her classmates during her commencement speech Friday night, “so it is up to you to attain your definition of success. If you end up failing, do not let it knock you down. A lack of success only becomes failure when you allow it to defeat you.”

Baka cited lyrics from One Republic’s “I Lived,” which is the class song. The song says, “I hope when the moment comes, you’ll say ‘I lived’.”

“I truly hope each and every one of us will be able to come back and say we lived our life to its full potential,” Baka said. “I hope we all go after each opportunity that comes our way, instead of hiding from it in fear. The absolute worst thing one can feel in life is regret.”

At the age of 12, salutatorian Jordyn Zwetolitz was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. While she said it wasn’t as serious as it could have been, it still took a toll on her, family and friends.

“I had their support through it all and have been in remission for 5 years now,” she said Friday. “Finding the good things out of what seems to be an entirely negative situation allows us to continue. My friends, we must move forward in life and not dwell on the things we can’t change.”

Zwetolitz also recalled the hardest course she ever took at Lehighton; AP Chemistry. The only sophomore in a class made up of juniors and seniors, she detailed a semester filled with note cards, tears, stress, and eventually happiness when it was over.

“At times I did feel like I was failing, but then I realized that I should not sit and cry over not understanding something but work harder,” she said. “And I did. With the help of Mrs. McCarroll’s expertise and motivational words and chemistry YouTube videos, I was able to come out on top and be the only one to finish with an A.”

Zwetolitz encouraged her classmates to push back when things don’t go their way, because the best is yet to come.

As fast as graduation day comes, Baka said, it is gone in a flash, leaving each student the challenge to live in the present.

“It is natural to be excited about the future, but don’t forget to cherish each moment as it happens,” she said.

Class President Addison Howland told classmates there will always be those telling them they’re not good enough, even if it is just for motivation.

“If you choose to set goals and chase your dreams with reckless abandon, you will be in disbelief of what the human mind and body can achieve when working with a purpose,” Howland said.

Lehighton welcomed back the Class of 1969, with member Monroe Berger addressing the current graduates.

“Like our class, you are a part of the end of a decade and the beginning of a new one,” Berger said. “Go out and create a future that will change the world.”




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