A sea of red and white –the color of the Comets -covered the floor of the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre June 10, as 245 Crestwood graduates awaited to be given their diplomas, the first step in the next phase of their lives.
Class President Kyle Lisicki spoke of his lasting friendships forged by celebrating differences and he encouraged his classmates to go on to make new friends. Vice President Alexandra Ayers quoted Dr. Suess to her peers when reflecting on their high school career, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
Before the ceremony, male graduates gathered down a hallway on one side of the arena. Wearing matching red gowns, they shook hands and quietly exchanged banter before their big moment. On the opposite side, the females, all wearing white, were freer with their emotions, some crying, others squealing and hugging, most all of them clutching iPhones and posing with friends for selfies.
As the Crestwood High School Band, directed by Janelle Decker, led the processional with “Pomp and Circumstance,” the two lines of red and white graduates met in the middle. Entering through a large wooden 2016 sign, the men walked through the 0 and the women through the 6, connecting on the other side to walk down the aisle to their seats.
Ayers, along with Kyle Argenziano, Brett Fetterman, Joanne Mofiletto, and Alice Novatnak, climbed the steps to the stage where school district administrators and Board of Education members sat. They sang the National Anthem to a large, standing crowd, some of whom sang along, followed by Crestwood’s Alma Mater, to which all the graduates chimed in.
Next Ayers spoke, telling the crowd that she couldn’t say a chapter of their lives was ending, since high school is a book of many chapters. While some of their chapters intersected, she said, “All of these stories are very different….Tonight, we are writing the final chapters of our books.”
Novatnak then took the stage to sing “Every Heart,” her lovely voice causing some graduates in the audience to get emotional.
Class President Lisicki spoke next, describing his family’s move from New Jersey to Mountain Top in 2012. “I talked differently, I dressed differently, and I definitely had a different haircut,” he recalled, adding that he never lived in a place with “so many wide open fields.”
Lisicki went on that he carried a secret with him and, while he’d been asked many times before, on the day when two girls asked him in the lunchroom if he was gay, this time he answered, “Yes.”
“I never felt so liberated and I never felt so scared,” he related. But, he said, “Something weird happened and that something was nothing. Nothing had changed.”
Lisicki’s peers accepted him, helping him to be true to himself. He encouraged them to go forward in their lives and meet others, having that same acceptance and understanding.