'Grit' is the West York graduation theme
While preparing for her speech to the class of 2016 at West York Area High School, Superintendent Emilie Lonardi looked up the secret to success.
"It turns out there's a name for it: Grit," she said.
More than 200 students graduated from the high school on Friday, and grit was mentioned many times throughout the speeches. The night began with an address by Lonardi, who stressed that grit overshadows other avenues to success, such as intelligence or wealth. She turned to real life examples, such as Steven Spielberg and Michael Jordan.
"It's not about the skill set you were born with, but the mindset you develop," Lonardi said. "Be grateful to those who helped you develop grit."
Diane Sutyak, valedictorian for the class of 2016, took the time to thank the administration, teachers and her classmates at West York and urged her fellow classmates to do so as well.
"Class of 2016, when you look back at this moment, I hope you remember the people of your past," she said. "It is there that you will find the best examples for your future."
Following Sutyak was salutatorian Emily Krout, who drew laughs from the crowd as she grew a few inches taller by stepping on the stool that was placed at the podium for her.
Krout spoke of the future and embracing it. She turned to "Catcher in the Rye" to illustrate that students should not be fearful of what happens next.
"This should be a time of excitement, not fear," Krout said. "We're about to embark on the greatest journey of all: adulthood."
Finally, Principal Janet May took to the stage, bringing the night full circle by speaking of grit once again to the class who attended school while the building was being renovated.
"It seemed at times that we attended Hogwarts," May said. "Never knowing which stairwell would be blocked, which wing of the building would be closed and never knowing where our classrooms might be moving to. But this class was resilient, and yes, they certainly demonstrated grit."