WEST AMWELL: Kyle Bogdan’s graduation address

Work hard, be kind

   Three years ago, a man who we have all come to admire began to tell us, every chance he could, to work hard and be kind. Five words. Simple and abbreviated, they are a lot to live up to. Working hard class after class, day after day is quite a feat, and being kind can seem even harder if the world is not being kind to you. Despite this, the Class of 2013 has risen to the occasion. The class of 2013 embodies the words that have become a trademark of our school. Every graduate sitting here tonight has contributed to our legacy.
   Jack Price and Sean Dale both offer the type of “Good Morning” that can make your entire day. Robert Albanir, Jason Shurts, Jake Phillips and Roxanne Kreider bounce from one sport to the next, all year long, while also juggling AP classes. Mikayla Fulper and Dain Silvestri have devoted themselves, year after year, to Night at the Nest, and could be seen frantically scouring the halls making sure that each member of their team would have the proper costume. Elyse Hartpence is skilled in the art of unconditional patience, a gift that not many people have. When Kyle Campbell and I are not discussing which one of us is the better Kyle, and when Daniel Voorhees isn’t hilariously describing a buffalo chicken pizza for the newspaper, these guys are playing football for charity and captaining South’s team.
   After rigorous courses and interval practices, Juli Riggs still finds time to volunteer for Girls on the Run. Jonathan Wendenborn, Andrew Nini, Zach Mastrich, Lloyd Seiter, Patrick Ferry and Kyle Tillett paved the way for every single student in our district to play soccer at South Hunterdon. Emma Carpenter sat in a plant while the rest of her cast went off to lunch, just because she wasn’t sure if the scene was over, and that right there is dedication. Hana Mershon, Lydia Mcdaniel and Eric Gilette put things in perspective with their kind words, “just because” gifts, and stories about Texas. Paul Cally is an Eagle Scout, who has given countless hours of service to our community, and if that isn’t enough, during play season he stays in the auditorium programming lights until each one is perfectly focused.
   Shelby Wilson knows Flemington like the back of her hand from running errands for the school store, planning junior prom, and the senior banquet. CJ Townes has dedicated months to completing fire school, and is now a Certified Firefighter. Heidi Culbertson and Rebecca Williamson have transformed our school’s Cheerleading Squad, and have made us all proud to be an Eagle. And I’m pretty sure that if you were to Google the word “Kind,” a picture of Michael Faillia and Rolando Huesca standing side by side would be featured first in the image feed. Erika Waslin works to see a situation from all angles and is an incredibly accepting human being. Julianna Hoff and Colleen Haug push their creativity to the limit, resulting in show worthy pieces.
   Sarafina Dibetta and Liam Piscatelli have mastered the task of listening, and take empathy to a whole new level. Andrew Donahue and Bobby Fodor endured countless rewrites, be it for Andrews work in the lit mag. or Bobby’s creation of a play for Youth Ink! These two have completed assignments not for a grade, but for their own personal intellectual benefit. Whether on the soccer field or in class, Holly Kapsimalis defines the word work. She did last week’s math review packet even though we technically did not have to, and patiently walked me through the problems that I did not understand. Adeline Donnelly and Alexander Singleton have pushed the limits of writing, as Adeline has written two 50,000 word novels, and Alex produced a 15-minute speech for FFA that took him all the way to the National Convention.
   Austin Van Truren has put in countless hours tutoring South’s younger students and gives the gift of confidence. Brad Bolash has served as a role model for perseverance and strength. Shirlyn Larson came bravely to South half way through our senior year to make sure she would graduate on time. lberto Ramirez’ efforts in culinary arts have opened up the door to culinary school. Grant Jensen, Alex Frazee and Hannah Marty devote time to develop their passions — Grant on the baseball field, Alex programming computers and Hannah behind a camera.
   After hearing that this speech would be dedicated to the kind actions and hard work of every single member of our class, Jack Price was quick to tell me that he was neither of those things. Jack, you are very wrong. While these accomplishments may seem small to each of you, they mean the world to me. Please understand that we will be forever connected not only to each other, but to this school: simply because we have lived by these five simple words. No matter where you go, or what you do, as long as you live your life with kindness and hard work, we will remain linked.
   Once we leave this field tonight we will head off on different paths, study different subjects and work at different jobs. What we will always share is that our success will be built on the same foundation. I think that the easiest way to end this is to pretend that we have just come to the end of another class meeting. After the end of this ceremony you will sign yourself out of high school, and leave the building to take a bite out of life. Just promise me that you will always keep yourself connected to our legacy, promise me that you will always work hard and be kind.