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‘I Hope You Dance,’ Saucon Valley High School Class of 2021 Told

Appoline Neveu Lehigh Saucon Graduation

There were laughs and a few tears, but most importantly there was plenty of applause for the 150-plus members of Saucon Valley High School’s Class of 2021, who graduated in an outdoor commencement ceremony held in the school district stadium Friday evening.

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Saucon Valley Graduation 2021

The stage was set for the Saucon Valley High School Class of 2021 to graduate in the school district stadium–figuratively speaking–long before Friday evening’s ceremony was held. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, school officials planned an outdoor ceremony, which fortunately was unaffected by bad weather. The graduation ceremony was attended by hundreds of family members of the 150-plus graduates, who comprised the 124th class to graduate from the district or its antecedents.

While the future is in many ways uncertain for members of the Class of 2021, Saucon Valley graduates are leaving the district well-prepared to confront the complexities of today’s world, speakers at Friday’s commencement ceremony told them.

There were laughs and a few tears, but most importantly there was plenty of applause for the 150-plus members of Saucon Valley High School’s Class of 2021, who graduated in an outdoor commencement ceremony held in the school district stadium Friday evening.

The weather earlier in the day had been unsettled, but the rain stopped and the sun came out shortly before the ceremony began, becoming a fitting meteorological metaphor for a class who over the past 19 months faced unprecedented educational and extracurricular challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. Just like those trials, Friday’s storms passed in time for the members of the Class of 2021 to begin their adult lives on a hopeful note.

Hope was the message conveyed by the ceremony’s faculty speaker, high school math teacher Kerry Schultz, who referenced a popular country song from decades ago–“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack–in telling graduates to take chances and live in the moment.

Kerry Schultz Saucon Graduation

Student-selected faculty speaker, math teacher Kerry Schultz, quoted a famous country song by Lee Ann Womack in advising the Class of 2021 to take chances in life. “When uyou get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” she said.

“On any given Friday, the entire world could shut down,” Schultz said, in reference to the pandemic. “Allow yourself the full experience. Dance like no one is watching. Dance because you want to, not because you want to see how many views you’re going to get on TikTok.”

“Sitting it out may be safe and comfortable, but who knows what might happen if you dance,” she told the class. “I wish you all the best of luck. I truly hope you will keep in touch. But most of all, I hope you dance.”

The ceremony was also noteworthy for the fact that the valedictorian, the salutatorian, the senior class officers and the student-selected speaker were all women; something that has not happened before, or at least in the recent past, at Saucon Valley High School.

VALEDICTORIAN: Helen Keetley
SALUTATORIAN: Mercedes Lingle
CLASS PRESIDENT/SGA CO-PRESIDENT: Grace Albano
CLASS VICE PRESIDENT: Kaleigh Hess-Davila
CLASS SECRETARY: Leah Fitzpatrick
CLASS TREASURER: Mackenzie Johnstone
SGA CO-PRESIDENT: Anna Burfeind
STUDENT-SELECTED SPEAKER: Appoline Neveu

Many students decorated their mortarboards with sayings or the names of the colleges or universities they will be attending.

Class Secretary Leah Fitzpatrick provided some historical perspective on the graduation by noting that 2021 also marks the 50th anniversary of Saucon Valley High School’s first commencement exercise. The high school, which opened in 1970, was built after the former Hellertown-Lower Saucon School District became the district that exists today.

Fitzpatrick noted that pandemic-era planning meant it wasn’t possible to reunite the Class of 1971 at Friday’s ceremony, but she paid tribute to that first class to graduate from SVSD by recalling some of the cultural touchstones of the early 1970s, when “Dirty Harry” was a hit film and the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made the legal voting age 18.

Saucon Valley

Class secretary Leah Fitzpatrick provided some historical perspective on Friday’s graduation by highlight events and statistics from 50 years ago, when the first diplomas to read “Saucon Valley High School” were issued.

 

In 1971, Fitzpatrick said, a gallon of gas cost just 40 cents, and Saucon Valley wrestler Don Rohn became legendary seemingly overnight by winning two state championships.

Saucon Valley Superintendent Dr. Craig Butler joked that he remembered filling up his VW Bug with gas that cost about eight times less than it does today; an economic reality that is one of many members of the Class of 2021 will now begin to face as adults.

“The school district has equipped you to meet these challenges,” Butler said, adding that the graduating class of seniors has “certainly enhanced the reputation of the high school and the entire district.”

Before the tassles were turned to symbolize their official matriculation from Saucon Valley High School, Class President Grace Albano directed the members of the Class of 2021 to squeeze together for a selfie, with the stadium grandstand in the background.

Friday’s graduation ceremony was streamed live on the Saucon Athletics YouTube channel, and the recording may be watched there.

Appoline Neveu Lehigh Saucon Graduation

Student-selected speaker Appoline Neveu plans to study behavioral neuroscience at Lehigh University, where she will also play soccer.

For our photos of the graduates and additional photos from the ceremony, please see below.

Saucon Valley High School – Class of 2021

Madison Andrea Adler
Grace Marie Albano
Lydia Marie Apple
Oscar Jhovanny Barahona
Jaclyn Kelly Barbera
Emma E. Barrell
Christian Michael Tomas Baukal
Sydney G. Bedner
Megan Denise Bergenheier
Eric Joseph Alexander Blazka
Alexander A. Bortz
Nicholas A. Bortz
Jennifer Michelle Boyle
Kieran William Boyle
Keara Unique Bradley
Courtney Alexis Bray
Samantha Grace Briggs-Wiley
Eric Gerdts Brown
Autumn Anne Budline
Christopher Matthew Bufanio
Anna Elizabeth Burfeind
Madalyn Jean Buss
Isabella James Butera
Jackson Carl Carpenter
Lei James Carr
Ronald An Carr
Claire Rose Cassellia
Matthew E. Chaikowsky
Iman Afzal Chaudhry
Dino Chen
Lydia Nefely Christogianni
Melissa Cipollini
Karissa A. Corcoran
Kellen D. Cosgrave
Alisea Marie Cutietta
Kelsey Paige Cyphers
Eli Robert Deily
Robecca Marie Dettmar
Jake R. DeVico
Tyler P. Dickens
Gabriel Thomas Dietrich
Maria C. Donahue
Ermal Duka
Nathan Duprey
Kianna Eunice Espinosa
Connor R. Evans
Caydence B. Faatz
Abbie A. Farb
Leah P. Fitzpatrick
Mikayla Noel Fluck
Mariah F. Ford
Ally Grace Frace
Josalyn Rose Fritz
Tristen A. Gambino
Alexis Paige Gerstenberg
Dylan R. Gilly
Ashton Gonsalves
Gabriel L. Grant
Aaron M. Grogg
Deven Guthrie
Abygayle Rose Harris
Dakota Mason Harris
Julia Marie Hernandez
Chase J. Hershey
Kaleigh Larie Hess-Davila
Dustin L. Hill
Samuel James Hoffert
Caroline G. Honsel
Trinity Marie Housenick
Kiya Marie Humphries
Chloƫ Blue Jeanmonod
Colin Matthew Johnson
Rachel M. Johnson
Mackenzie P. Johnstone
Emma Rose Jucewicz
Lauren E. Kachmarsky
Megan Erin Kane
Layna Nicole Keck
Helen Mae Keetley
Kasandra J. Kelly
Breanna J. Kemmerer
Misty A. Kemmerer
Leah Victoria Kramer
Keith Carmody Kreschollek
Mackenzie Lauren Krock
Jorryn Alexis Kyra
Asia M. Lambert
Kerry Maryellen Lannon
Ryan Arthur Lebo
Nicole D. Leidy
Jacob Christian Leonard
Mercedes Anne Lingle
Liam H. Lloyd
Victoria Rose Macarro
Abigail Grace Manbeck
Christopher Paul Mann
Katherine Ann Marker
Aaliyana I. Mateo
Emma Kelyn Maykut
Marissa Claire McCullough
Victoria Alexandria Mease
Christopher Medei
Braden Melham
Andrew S. Melo
Kristen Jane Milliren
Morgan Lynn Mixa
Ramel Kaream Moore
Luis I. Morales
Aleaya Rose Myers
Matthew Robert Nagy
Appoline Z. Neveu
Emily Lynn Nolan
Aidan Nolf
Kathleen Jean-Marie Nuss
Ayanna L. Nuttall
Truth Jamine Oakes
David Moffat Osman
Jake OuYang
Dimitri George Pandelios
Rahul Patel
Owen Jacob Petiet
Trinity Anareese Phetsavanh
James Holt Phillips
Aidan R. Piccuirro
Madysen Hailey Pritchard
Andrew Christopher Propsner
Yamil A. Quintana Cintron
Anthony M. Reith
Sophia Elizabeth Riehl
Sean Royer
Ryan Matthew Salmon
Matthew R. Schaffstall
Alexis Mae Schrantz
Ayush Amit Shah
Makenzie Lynn Shimko
Claire Elizabeth Silva
Jonathan James Sinko
Benjamin C. Skubera
Malia Ann Snyder
Judy Marie Squires
Samantha L. Staats
Alexcia M. Stanley
Olivia Fae Steuer
Benjamin David Stromski
Michael William Sullivan
Maggie Toner
Samara Margarita Torres
Ethan Quade Trimmer
Mia Ulmer
Valerie Valianatos
Ethan Nicolaas Van Der Walt
Ashley V. Viscito
Katherine P. Wakely
Jase Christopher Weber
Milo G. Whitley
Abigail C. Wieder
Tori Lynne Williams
Aidan Joseph Wilson
Molly Ann Youells
Katie A. Young
Kenneth W. Young
Trent M. Young
Morgan E. Yurasits
Ryan Zheng
Trinity H. Ziegler
Colin D. Zyck

Photos by Chris Christian

Keetley

Class of 2021 Valedictorian Helen Keetley plans to study organismal biology and ecology at Colorado College in the fall.

Class of 2021 Salutatorian Mercedes Lingle plans to study art at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

Saucon Graduation 2021 Albano

Senior class president and Student Government Association co-president Grace Albano plans to study accounting at Lehigh University.

Saucon Graduation 2021

Class of 2021 Vice President Kaleigh Hess-Davila plans to attend Franklin & Marshall College.

Class of 2021 Treasurer Mackenzie Johnstone plans to study biology at Ohio State University.

Class of 2021 Secretary Leah Fitzpatrick plans to attend Temple University.

Student Government Association co-president Anna Burfeind plans to study nursing at Elon University.

Class Speaker Appoline Neveu plans to study behavioral neuroscience and play soccer at Lehigh University.

Maria Donahue

Melissa Cipollini

David Osman

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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at josh@sauconsource.com.

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