Bethel Park High School held its 114th annual Commencement at Black Hawk Stadium on Thursday, June 8, 2023, on an unseasonably cool summer night that featured a brief shower beforehand and a poor air quality alert throughout the week, the result of wildfires that have raged across Canada.
Those proved to be little more than minor distractions for a group that has already overcome so much adversity in their young lives, including navigating through a global pandemic and completely reinventing how education was delivered and received during their brief but memorable high school careers.
Among its 352 members, the Bethel Park High School Class of 2023 included 116 students who graduated with the Highest Honors (QPA higher than 4.0), 60 students who graduated with High Honors (QPA of 3.75 to 4.0), and 36 students who graduated with Honors (QPA of 3.50 to 3.749).
One hundred and eighteen of this year's graduates were members of the National Honor Society. Seventy-three percent will attend a four-year institution, and eight percent will attend a two-year institution. Approximately one percent of the Class of ’23 will enter the military, while 18 percent is unknown, undecided, or will enter the workforce.
This year's Valedictorian, Carter Kicinski,
praised his classmates’ persistence and adaptability during a very difficult period and urged them to maintain that growth mindset in the future. “I am proud to say that we overcame COVID-19 as a group. We did not let it ruin our high school experience, but rather we made the most out of it,” he said. “We can’t shy away from the major changes in our lives. While it may seem like a lot right now, we must know that it is just another step toward the success we seek.”
Salutatorian Mira Weston
spoke wistfully about the letter she recently received from her third grade self and laughed at how drastically different her priorities are now. She also surmised that years from now, she and her classmates will undoubtedly be similarly nostalgic about the innocence of their current plight.
With that in mind, Weston echoed Kincinski’s call for their classmates to embrace change. “Change is not only an inevitable part of life, but it is also a necessary part of life,” she cautioned. “Within change environments, we can better flourish and propel ourselves towards higher and greater goals. Change is not something to be feared, but rather something to welcome, for its abundance of potential in advancement.”
During his remarks, Bethel Park High School Principal Mr. Joseph Villani
complimented the members of the Class of ’23 for its excellence in the classroom, on the playing fields, on the stage, and most importantly, in the community.
“I am so proud of the effort and dedication this class has committed to reaching while elevating our school to the national stage, as you did this past year when Bethel Park joined an exclusive list of American high schools to be named a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School,” he said. “That recognition, which formally designated BPHS as an Exemplary High Performing School, was derived largely from the test scores and other achievements by this graduating class.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mark Korcinsky
encouraged the students to celebrate their achievements and acknowledge the unique challenges they have overcome during their high school years.
“You have endured a global pandemic that disrupted your education, changed how you learn, and tested your resilience,” he said. “Despite these obstacles, you have demonstrated remarkable adaptability and strength and emerged stronger and more prepared for the future.”
In keeping with tradition, red, white, and blue military cords and BPHS challenge coins, were presented to the students who will soon serve in the armed forces. Principal Advisory Council of Students President Drew Lippert gave the background and descriptions of the coins. Retired Major Dr. Erek Clacks
coordinated the presentation. Air Force Staff Sergeant Kristen Erb
and Army Sergeant Matthew Sunseri
Class President Colin Fink
he Senior Farewell, encouraging his fellow graduates to remain optimistic during an otherwise challenging time.
“There's this idea that we, as a generation, were born too late and into a world where everything has either been thought of or monopolized,” he said. “Where we no longer have control over the technology that has been created; and where it's more important to prove others wrong than to prove oneself right.
“I would suggest that we are specially equipped to carry the torch and say that the uniqueness of our generation, given that we were raised during the genesis of modern technology, gives us a unique opportunity quite literally to change the world,” said Fink.
Student Government Association President Melina Stewart
concluded the ceremony by leading the class in the traditional turning of the tassels and tossing their caps.
Best wishes to the Class of 2023. Thank you for the memories, and continue to do great things! Please click the link below for the event program
, including the list of graduates from the Class of 2023.