Abington Heights graduates reflect on group’s successes


Percussionist Celeste Belknap performs with the musical ensemble in cap and gown at the beginning of commencement.

Martha Phillips had the pleasure of introducing her best friend and class president, Alexander Fried (background).

The Abington Heights Class of 2015 processes into the football stadium on Friday, June 12.

From left, Jessica Nicholof, Samantha Bilardi, Kelly Neff, all of Clarks Summit, pose for a photo prior to the beginning of commencement ceremonies.

Matt McDonald, a member of the Comets’ baseball team, arrives just in time for graduation after the Comets took second place in the PIAA State Class AAA playoff at State College. McDonald and his teammates had a police escort to graduation upon completion of the game to arrive on time. Take note: he is still wearing his baseball uniform under his gown.

CLARKS SUMMIT — Throughout the Abington Heights High School commencement ceremony on Friday, June 12 at Comets Stadium, there was a common thread throughout the speeches: the accomplishments of the graduates.

Valedictorian Sam Morano, who will attend The University of Scranton, mentioned the wide variety of success achieved by different members of the class.

“The Class of 2015 is among the most impressive in Abington Heights school history,” Morano said. “In fact, I would dare to say the Class of 2015 is the greatest of all time. Our soccer, tennis, basketball and volleyball teams won either district or league championships. Our debate team is nationally recognized. Among us, we have decorated musicians, aspiring artists and actors, a self-published author, an entrepreneur, a recipient of a perfect ACT score, state medalists in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science and Science Olympiad, and school record-holders. Our baseball team made the state championship game and inspired the entire school community with its postseason run. Our football team won the RailRiders Bowl. You name it and we’ve done it. In some portion, each and every one of us contributed to making Abington Heights the unquestionably, incredible high school it is. We pushed each other to strive for greatness and, in the process, that’s exactly what we achieved.”

Salutatorian Joe Sileo, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania, believes a strong work ethic was integral to the accolades.

“Over the past four years, we’ve shown there is no limit to what we can achieve as long as hard work and dedication is involved.”

Class President Alex Fried, who will continue his studies at George Washington University, credited the teachers and administration for playing a critical role in the students’ success.

“I have never seen or met a group of more passionate individuals who are good at what they do and love doing it,” Fried said.

Student Council President Jessica Rickwood’s grandparents flew 3,000 miles from Scotland to celebrate the graduates.

“The Class of 2015 truly exemplifies the Abington Heights tradition of excellence,” Rickwood said. “Over the years, every single one of us has developed our sense of Comet Pride.”

High school math teacher Vincent Pricci was the class-elected guest speaker for the ceremony and urged the 255 graduates to set their own goals.

“One needs to set (their) own expectations, instead of trying to fulfill others,” Pricci said. “For the past 18 years, you have all been bombarded with expectations. My wish is that you all choose your expectations carefully. As you consider your future, be deliberate. Ask yourself what you want your legacy to be. Don’t just find your personal success; find your way to leave a positive mark on the world.”

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