As the Elk County Catholic High School Class of 2012 bid farewell to their high school careers on Sunday afternoon, student speakers Valedictorian Jacob Herbstritt and Salutatorian Jena Struble recollected a host of memories shared by the graduates.
Herbstritt's address centered around the need to be prepared, a motto he learned as a Boy Scout throughout his youth. Looking back, he questioned if the graduates' time at ECC has prepared them for what lies ahead.
"Whether or not we fully realize it yet, I believe that we have attended one of the best schools in the state, if not the entire country. Here at ECC, we have been blessed academically, spiritually and athletically," Herbstritt said. "In my time in high school, I have met students from many other school systems and walks of life and I am convinced that other schools do not have what we have. Here at ECC, our teachers have not only been preparing us academically, but to succeed in life. Yes, I am sure that we have been properly prepared."
In addition to thanking the ECC faculty and staff who "gave us more of yourself than you had to and many times more than we deserved," Herbstritt also thanked his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters for their support throughout his life, stating he could always count of them.
While contemplating writing his graduation speech, Herbstritt said he thought, "Who am I to give a speech to my classmates and all of the good people in attendance here today? My father continually reminds me that I don't really know anything yet, but nonetheless, here I am."
His friends also advised him not to make his speech original and not too long or too short.
Herbstritt said that while reflecting on the past four years, he planned to speak about the good times and the bad, but could not remember very many bad memories expect for dreading studying or occasionally doing poorly on a test. Some of the memories he mentioned were his fellow classmates breaking volleyball, softball and swimming records, their senior retreat, the hackey sack club and mosh pits at dances.
"It's hard to believe that you want so badly for something to be over and then when it happens, you realize how much we will miss it," Herbstritt said. "I know that in the next couple of weeks we will be remembering all of the good times, but we must not forget that the most exciting time of our lives is about to begin."
In concluding his speech, Herbstritt said, "I thought that I should end with a quote, and who better to quote than the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus. Jesus said 'Love one another as I have loved you.' As we go out into the world, remember His words. If each of us follows His words, the world will be a far better place."
In speaking to her fellow classmates, ECCHS Salutatorian Jena Struble noted the many common experiences they have shared, including senior retreat, the haunted house, car washes, bonfires, band performances, sporting events, prom and Catholic Schools Week, during which she jokingly noted the most competitive people in the world can be found when it comes to a volleyball tournament.
She explained while such shared memories bond the class as friends, they are each unique, coming from different elementary schools and parishes as well as taking varied academic paths, with some enrolling in numerous Advanced Placement classes or art classes, and others opting for a study hall any chance they could get.