Palmerton grads ready to leave mark on world
Victoria Alvarez and Richard Hrusovsky make their way to the stage at Penn’s Peak for Palmerton’s 2019 graduation ceremony. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Matthew Binder never thought the day would come.
The Palmerton Area High School senior said when he was younger, 2019 seemed “mysterious and “long-off.”
But on Monday night, Binder was on the stage of Penn’s Peak, saying farewell to his teachers, classmates and school as valedictorian of Palmerton’s 2019 graduating class.
“Here we are, ready to go our separate ways,” Binder said. “It’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it?”
“This is not the end, it’s not even the beginning of the end,” he said. “All it is, perhaps, is the end of the beginning.”
Binder quoted a Jason Aldean song — pausing first to ask the crowd keep their groans “to a minimum,” as it is a country song — to convey what he was feeling.
“It sure left its mark on us, and we sure left our mark on it. We let the world know we were here and everything we did,” Binder recited. “We laid a lot of memories down, like tattoos on this town.”
Mia Fantasia, salutatorian, told the crowd high school was a stepping stone, and while this journey was coming to an end, the Class of 2019 made memories that will stay “close to our hearts.”
For Fantasia, some of those memories include Palmerton Area High School’s Mini-THON, where the school raised more than $18,000 for childhood cancer patients. Or their annual Christmas pageant, when seniors stood side-by-side singing their class song: John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads.”
But one of Fantasia’s favorite memories, she said, was drawing the Class of 2019 cartoon portrait.
“Behind the pen and paper, I truly felt as though I was becoming closer to those I was drawing,” Fantasia said. “It was imperative that I included every senior, because if one of my classmates was absent from the drawing, I failed to truly portray the Class of 2019.
“We are all essential individuals that make up the picture of a successful class ready to take on new adventures,” she said.
Fantasia compared each person’s life to a canvas, which starts blank. The paint, she said, symbolizes the choices we make in controlling our destiny. The brushes represents education as a tool to apply those choices.
“Today marks the end of our high school career,” she added, “but all of our paintings are about a third of the way completed. Even though we’ve made progress, we still hope to achieve many goals for the future whether it be in a college, a trade school, the military, or the work force.”
Paula Huser, principal, said she tries to “find the particular mark” of each class she sees graduate. As for the Class of 2019, it the students’ genuine care for one another.
“They believed in themselves, and they believed in each other,” Huser said. “They truly were a class act.”