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Claysburg Graduates 52

The Claysburg-Kimmel Class of 2024 celebrated their Commencement exercises Saturday, June 1, at Bulldog Stadium.

“Good morning, Claysburg,” Superintendent Brian Helsel said, welcoming the crowd. “It’s one of those days you’ll never forget. It’s a special day for so many of us. It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child and a big part of your village is here today.”

As he talked to the fifty-two seniors, Dr. Helsel said he had three pieces of advice for seniors.

“One – in life, do or don’t. Be a doer. Expect success and always choose to make an effort. Two, understand the concept of prepared confidence – always prepare. And three, life is truly 10% of what happens and 90% of how we react,” Helsel said. “Life is about the memories we make.”

Reflections were given by Class Treasurer Elias Ritchey.

“Never stop making a difference and take some of that Claysburg kindness with you.” Ritchey said “Trust in God, He will carry you through the trials of life.”

Class Secretary Alyssa Sacchitella led the Pledge of Allegience.

Class President Trevor Finnegan said the class of 2024 had been in school for 2,340 hours.

“It’s been a long thirteen years,” he said. “High school had been playing a game, and it’s how you play the game – whether you’re going onto the next game (college) where you’ve been shooting through high scores, continuing to play the game with a skill (trade) or you’re just hanging up the towel and getting a job.”

Finnegan went on to thank the staff, administration, lunch ladies, and custodians – for “having a place to play the game.”

Class Salutatorian Emalee Cavender was next,.

“This day signifies the end of a chapter and the start of a new chapter,” she said.

Cavender touted the successes of Boys’ Baseball and Basketball playoff runs, and the Girls’ Volleyball and Softball playoff runs. Cavender also praised the number of students who had a GPA of over 100% and recollected on some of her favorite memories in high school: powderpuff football, being crowned Homecoming Queen, attending Rotary Student of the Month festivities, District VI Softball Champions, and water gun assassins. Cavender also thanked the community of Claysburg for their support and told the story of her father, during the last playoff game, said to look around and see the amount of Claysburg fans out supporting the ladies, which was more than double the amount of fans from the other team. Cavender is continuing her education at PSU Altoona.

Class Valedictorian Zachary Campagna said the day was a time to celebrate their achievements and to look forward to the future.

Campagna told seniors to never give up on their dreams.

Campagna, after thanking the class for all the laughs and memories, quoted Jordan Belfort, “the only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

Campagna will continue his education at St. Francis University.

Class Vice President Cameron Claycomb followed with the Teacher Appreciation Award. Claycomb joked that he still remembers crying in Kindergarten for being without his Mommy.

“One teacher can leave an undeniable impact to leave an imprint on our lives,” he said. After thanking the teachers, Claycomb said the teachers in the district connected with them and prepared them for the next steps.

Claycomb presented the award to Troy Hartman, the anatomy teacher.

“These students become your children – you’ll always be our kids,” Hartman said. He quoted Henry Ford by saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right,” Hartman said. “I hope that teachers pushed you when you thought you couldn’t and made you believe you can do more than you think you can.”

High School Principal Charles Kassick joked with the crowd that Vice President Cameron Claycomb still cries into his peanut butter toast for his Mom when he does the morning announcements. Kassick gave a special shout-out to the girls’ softball team who after a 9-3 win over West Branch became the District VI Softball Champions and will continue their playoff run in the next week.

“Claysburg is a special place,” Kassick said. “I go home and tell my wife that every day. This is the beginning of the rest of your life. Throughout your life, there’s going to be times to celebrate and times to mourn. In the real world, there’s going to challenges much bigger than homeroom, and how you want your pizza —those difficulties are to make us better, not bitter.”


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