Amy Billerbeck, President, USC Board of School Directors
As I was thinking about my remarks for this evening, I came across a quote from Dr. Minor Myers, Jr., former president of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. Dr. Myers told his students: “Go into the world and do well, but, more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
Class of 2019, you are clearly doing well. As I’m sure you all know, your SAT, ACT, and Keystone Exam scores all ranked #1 out of all the public high schools in Western Pennsylvania. In addition, the Pittsburgh Business Times recently ranked Upper St. Clair High School #1 in the Pittsburgh region. Clearly, you have done well academically. You have also excelled in countless athletic and artistic pursuits.
We are truly proud of the hard work, effort, and determination you have put into our three “As”—academics, arts, and athletics.
But we are as just as proud of your achievements in a fourth “A” category— altruism—your work on behalf of others. There are endless examples of this. You have traveled with Kids Helping Kids to the Dominican Republic, and tutored and mentored middle school students right here in USC. You’ve participated in Mini-THON, raising over $58,000 for pediatric cancer research, and helped with the Kindness Matters project benefitting the Pittsburgh Jewish Federation. Collectively, you have performed thousands of community service hours for IB, National Honor Society, Makea-Wish ® , Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the Medallion Ball, and many others. You have collected food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, money, and more. Just think about it, you and your classmates have made a real difference in the lives of countless people during the past four years. In short, you have put altruism right up there with academics, the arts, and athletics; and you have made a great start at doing good.
Seniors, life is about to take you to new places in new directions. No matter where your journey takes you, get involved in your community. Pick anything you care about. Whether you are volunteering with underserved kids or for an environmental cause, in an animal shelter, or in a hospital, you can have an impact on your community and instantly connect with people who share your interests and passions. In the process, you will build on the leadership and soft skills you have already started to develop; skills that are critical in the professional world and in life.
Keep up the good work you’re already doing. Let your altruistic spirit and your commitment to serving others be something you take with you from Upper St. Clair, to nurture and build on for the rest of your lives.
Class of 2019, you are poised to go out into the world and do well; but, more importantly, may you always continue to do good!
Dr. John Rozzo, Superintendent of Schools
Class of 2019, simply put, you have been exemplary in everything you have done.
As I thought about tonight’s commencement, I reflected on my own high school graduation. Remarkably, it is almost 25 years ago to the day that I was sitting in your space, about to receive my diploma. Time certainly has gone by quickly.
I have a vivid memory of my graduation day. My friend had planned to drive us to the commencement ceremony. Trying to be responsible, I called his house to see what time he was picking me up. You heard what I said, right? I called his home phone. However, I was confronted with the major roadblock of “older” generations… a relentless busy signal. You see, not one of my classmates owned a cell phone. The Internet was still a few years into the future. We certainly had not heard of text messaging or email. Social media had not yet been invented. Smart phones and tablets were years away. And Netflix? Well, we were just happy if we owned this thing called a VCR!
Needless to say, a quarter century later, much has changed in the world. Between now and when you celebrate your 25th anniversary of graduating from Upper St. Clair High School, there will undoubtedly be greater changes in the world than the evolution of a landline’s dreaded busy signal.
Class of 2019, I am not only confident that you will help lead these changes, but your resume as students here has proven that your contributions will make the world a better place.
High school graduates are often challenged to think big and to go and do great things. I simply ask that you continue what you, the Class of 2019, have already started. You have made an indelible mark on your school and your community. In your next adventure, whether it’s in higher education, the military, or the workforce, I challenge you to continue to make a positive difference in everything you do. Time will go by quickly. Make the most of your journey.
In closing, I leave you with a few simple, yet important, things to remember as you move into subsequent chapters of your life:
• Spend lots of time with your family and friends.
• Treat everyone with respect.
• Be kind to the unkind, they often need it most.
• Help those who need help, and ask for help when you need it.
• Do the right thing, even when nobody is looking.
• Be proud of where you come from. It, indeed, is a special place.
• Even though your time as high school students is almost over, you will forever be a proud Upper St. Clair Panther.
Most of all, thank you Class of 2019. Not only have you upheld the rich tradition of excellence that embodies Upper St. Clair High School, you have raised the bar. Whether it is next year, or 25 years from now, know that the door to Upper St. Clair is always open and we will always welcome you home.
Excerpts of Student Speeches
… Your existence has an impact. Now, before you think I am about to go back on my initial disclaimer, this statement is simply a scientific observation. Actually, Albert Einstein uncovered the fundamental relationship between space and time. Skipping the mathematical models and scientific jargon, space and time are essentially linked by a metaphoric fabric: one cannot exist without the other. The three dimensions of space and one dimension of time are fused into a fourdimensional reality. And, any matter that exists, including yourself, literally bends this spacetime geometry. Therefore, in an infinite universe over a wide range of time, you are sitting here, listening to me talk, at 40.34ºN, 80.07 ºW on June 6, 2019, bending the fabric of the universe. Fundamentally, your existence literally has an impact on everything.
Frankly, I don’t know what the future holds or what your mark will be on this world. But right now, we are all here at 40.34ºN, 80.07 ºW at this hour in time on June 6, 2019, a time and place that will become woven in all of our lives as we cherish memories, celebrate our diligence, and tell one another how proud we are of our best friends. So, let’s engrain this in our own spacetime fabric and honor this moment.
… The biggest thing I learned from my high school experience that all of us should continue to apply is that our minds will never change if we continue to only hear our own opinion reiterated back to us. So, as we move on, make sure we’re open to other people’s ideas and not stuck in our own beliefs. Don’t ridicule those who have different opinions. In a time where differences in opinions create heightened tension, it’s our job to make sure we don’t let that happen. Rather, we embrace different ideas and lead lives where, instead of veering apart, we come together. As we come together as a class for one last time, it’s important to understand what this means. Let our diplomas tie us to one another. What we receive today isn’t an end of our story; rather, it’s merely the beginning.
… Perhaps, some of us will change the world in profound ways. Regardless, we all have the opportunity to change the world in very simple ways. I dare you to show kindness. In our everyday lives, kindness can make a difference. I dare you to be generous. Monetary generosity is always good, but generosity of your time and energy is just as important. I dare you to be brave. You never know what life will throw at you, but we are all stronger than we realize. I dare you to be adventurous. It is not just about creating the bucket list, but also creating memories that will remain after you check it off the list. I dare you to be happy. There will always be circumstances and people in life who will pull you down. But joy and laughter are contagious and can pull you through every time.
… Inventor of the phrase “OMG,” Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Let’s face it, all of us have failed at something in some capacity in our lives, whether it be not getting the grade we wanted in a class, shooting a shot and missing, or even failing the driver’s test three times. (On a side note, I’d like to advise everyone to try and stay off the roads while I’m driving. It will not turn out well, just ask the guy I crashed into at Chick-Fil-A ® last summer.) But, after each of our failures, what did we do? Did we go home and cry? No, we went home, ate Chick-Fil-A, and figured out what we should do next. What I am trying to say is this: it doesn’t matter when and how we fail, but as Great Western Philosopher Big Sean often states, “Last night I took an L, but tonight I bounce back.” Like my man Big Sean, we have to be confident in our abilities to bounce back, no matter how tough is the challenge before us. Don’t lose enthusiasm. Stay confident. Any failure can be overcome.
Four members of the Class of 2019 were selected to speak at commencement. Shown here are excerpts of those speeches, as well as excerpts of the president of the board of school directors and the superintendent of schools speeches. To view each of them in their entirety, visit the TODAY website at www.twpusc.org/magaine/usc-today-home and click on “Past Issues” in the upper left-hand area of the screen. Scroll down to the “Features” section to find a link to the USCHS 2019 Commencement Speeches. To view the list of students who were honored at the USCHS awards ceremony in May, see page 69 or visit the “Past Issues” “Features” section of the TODAY website and search for USCHS 2019 Student Awards.
USCHS Class of 2019 Academic Achievers
Valedictorians: (listed alphabetically): Eshita Chhajlani, Samuel Ding, Mattigan Fultineer, Arushi Khaitan, Dina Leyzarovich, Jonah Manalo, Brendan Neal, Anh-Duy Nguyen, Dustin Riberi, Rebecca Speer, Grace Wagner, Lauren Wholey
IB Diploma Candidates: Ynyra Bohan, Meghan Joon, Nishita Kalepalli, Mallika Matharu, Nitesh Nagpal, Ritik Parmar, Shivam Patel
Superintendent’s Academic Achievement Award: Sara Cortese, Olivia Debski, Allison DelliCarri, Alexis Feldman, Cassandra Kartsonas, Jacqueline LeKachman, Lindsay Moskal, Taylor Quinn