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Graduates advised to face life with courage

May 30, 2012
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer , The Herald-Star

WELLSBURG - At Brooke High School's 43rd commencement program May 24, the Class of 2012 was advised by both peers and school officials to face life with courage and make the most of each day as each steps into the adult world.

Vincenzo Pizzuti, the class' valedictorian, said when discussing courage, many think of America's military, who display the trait while defending our country and its way of life.

But he said the Class of 2012 also has demonstrated courage as each student faced challenges to the goals they had set for themselves. And the future will be no different, Pizzuti said.

Article Photos

Warren Scott
LOOKING?AHEAD?— Brooke High School honors student Halle Virgin was among several students, including valedictorian Vincenzo Pizzuti and salutatorian Katie O’Connell, standing, who spoke during the school’s 43rd commencement program last week.

He quoted Follansbee native and successful college football coach Lou Holtz, who said, "You can succeed when nobody believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don't believe in yourself."

Katie O'Connell, the class salutatorian, told her peers there's always a chance you won't succeed but one sure way to fail is to do nothing.

She encouraged them to broaden their horizons and test the waters "because the best surprises are lurking at the deep end."

Christa Bland, an honors student in the graduating class, shared advice often attributed to Mother Teresa.

They are: "People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

"If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

"Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

Ali Crawford, another Brooke honor student, told her classmates not to dwell on past mistakes but learn from them and not to be afraid of trying new things.

"Be fearful of not living up to your full potential," she advised.

Halle Virgin, who ranks academically among the class' top 11 students, quoted Andre Gide, a French writer and 1947 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, who said, "Man can not discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."

Virgin said that means at times the graduates must step outside their comfort zone.

She said the time has come for each to apply what they have learned in school to the real world and recognize they have the potential to change the world in a positive way.

Toni Shute, the school's principal, told the students to enjoy all aspects of life, from the look of an infant attempting to lift a Cheerio for the first time to the blooming of azaleas, and to help others.

"Realize life is the best thing ever and you have no business taking it for granted," she said, adding, "Life is not a dress rehearsal. Today is the only thing we are guaranteed."

Shute recalled a visit to Virginia Beach one cold November evening and seeing a homeless woman sitting at the edge of a dock. She asked the woman why she didn't seek refuge from the cold at a local shelter.

The woman replied, "Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view."

"Look at the view. You will never be disappointed," Shute advised.

Kathy Kiddder, superintendent of Brooke County Schools, thanked parents for sharing their children with the schools and their staff. While the students have learned many things during their school years, the staff has been enriched by their interaction with them and watching their development into young adults, she said.

"We will always be interested in your children and their destinies, wherever they may go and whatever they may become," Kidder said.

Also participating in the program were: senior choir member Brent Kimball, who performed the national anthem; the Brooke High School Band, Junior Class Vice President Zachary Morris, who welcomed attendees; graduating seniors Rachel Richard and Josh Yost, who also offered remarks; and the Brooke County school board and the school's assistant principals, who presented the diplomas.

(Scott can be contacted at

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