The Neshannock High School auditorium was overflowing with friends, family, faculty, and thirteen years of memories on the evening of June 4, 2019, for 60th annual commencement ceremony. The Neshannock Band played the traditional Pomp and Circumstance (Sir Edward Elgar) as our graduates processed down the aisles of the auditorium.
High School Principal, Mr. Luca Passarelli, welcomed the guests of honor and all in attendance to the memorable evening prior to introducing the distinguished alumna, Mrs. Estee (Mermelstein) Portnoy, Class of 1985, who provided the alumni address. Estee Portnoy is the Senior Vice-President of Jump.DC, a division of Live Nation. She oversees the day-to-day business and marketing activities for NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. During her address, Estee — sporting her red and white Jordan shoes — gave the Class of 2019 ten special pieces of wisdom and advice that were reflective of her career with the GOAT — Greatest of all Time — Michael Jordan:
- Build Your Own Brand: Your personal brand is a reflection of your values and what you stand for – be true to yourself!
- Don’t Forget Where You Came From: It’s okay to be in a hurry to go somewhere, but never forget where you came from. Surround yourself with those who make you feel as amazing as you are.
- How You Fail Defines How You Succeed: You will fail at something in life – we all do. When that happens, fall forward. Become stronger and learn from your mistakes.
- HUSTLE: Outwork everyone. Work hard, stay late, and persevere. The busier you are, the better you will stay on schedule. Refuse to give up!
- Dreams are Important, But Plans are Better: Some want, some wish, and others make it happen! Dreams are critical, but they don’t happen without work. Start planning!
- Believe in Yourself: Before others can believe in you and support you, you must first believe in yourself. Don’t ever doubt what you can accomplish. Careers do not have genders. Never settle, know your work, and stick together. Teamwork matters!
- Ask for Help: Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. We’re all human and still learning.
- Unplug: Social media seems to rule all today and, unfortunately, it usually makes us feel worse about ourselves. Lives on Instagram are rarely true to life. No one is going to know who got the most “likes” – learn how to communicate in person.
- It’s Gotta Be the Shoes: Embrace the world in which we live. Celebrate – don’t fear – your differences. We need to learn to walk in one another’s shoes in order to see the world through the eyes of others. Go into the world with empathy.
- Say Thank You: Thank everyone who got you to this point. But most importantly, thank your parents and your teachers. No matter what, go forward with a thankful heart.
Following Estee Portnoy’s address of the graduates, Salutatorian, Anneliese Harp, and Valedictorian, Melissa Srun, engaged the Class of 2019 with personalized messages, a walk down memory lane, and hopes for future successes. District Superintendent, Dr. Terence P. Meehan, offered the graduates congratulatory words and expressed the honor of being the newest members of the distinguished Lancer Alumni Community prior to accepting the class and certifying their graduation.
Following the conferring of their diplomas, the graduates ceremoniously shifted their tassels to signify their status as alumni. The audience and alumni were then treated to a “Look Back Through Time” media presentation assembled by Mrs. Amy Clark, NHS English teacher.
The celebration continued in the high school gymnasium where the graduates tossed their caps high into the air! Then, per new tradition, an all-alumni photograph was taken. It was inspirational to see so many generations of Lancers in one photograph!
Many hands worked together to honor our graduates. Special thanks to the Board of Education, Miss Kimberly Heim and Mrs. Darci Wise (Faculty of the Music Department), Mr. Joseph Thomas (Student Activities Director), Mrs. Brenda DeVincentis (Sr. High Guidance Counselor), Mr. Justin DiMuccio (Business Manager), Mr. Chris Ferry (Director of Technology), Mr. Jason Williams (Food Service), Mr. Mark Ulam (Director of Building and Grounds), Mrs. Tracey Romano, Mr. Aaron Viggiano, Mr. Joey Heath, Mr. Anthony Johnson, and Ms. Leslie Janaszek, who coordinated the letters from the faculty to our graduates.
Congratulations and Best Wishes to the Class of 2019!