Delmar High salutatorian Aryan Patel spoke about the class of 2019 reaching the sunset of their high school careers with last Friday’s commencement exercises at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, while valedictorian A.J. Angello told his classmates that the next day’s sunrise signifies a new beginning in their lives. In between the two speeches, the graduates heard from keynote speaker Dr. Ron Siers, Jr., a Salisbury University professor and coach and a former teacher at Wicomico High and Mardela, who offered them 10 tips to consider on their journey after high school.
Delmar High School principal Mike Bleile opened the ceremony by announcing that the class of 2019 had received $2.1 million in scholarships with members of the class committed to attend 47 colleges and universities. He added that 97 percent of the class are attending a two or four year college or trade school, serving in the military, or are joining the workforce. “All of your hard work is on display this evening,” said Bleile.
“The town of Delmar, which is obviously a town too big for one state, is a community, a family and a community that rallies behind each other. We look to you to be the most productive citizens you can be. You are our future and our future is bright,” Bleile added. “You will go on to do great things, but always bleed the orange and blue.”
Class president Gabby Morelli called for a moment of silence before the school’s chorus sang “The Journey”. Patel followed with a tribute to his parents.
“Without them I would not have achieved this accomplishment,” he said. He added that lessons learned shaped who the members of the class of 2019 are and that they can learn from their mistakes to become better versions of themselves.
“Being part of such a loving and caring community gives us a bond we will never let go of,” said Patel. “We are naturally afraid to encounter failure, but I say face it head on. I know that the class of 2019 will have a promising outcome.”
Following a performance of “Blue Ridge Saga” by the school band, Superintendent Charity Phillips introduced Siers. Originally from Louisville, Siers enters his 30th year of teaching and coaching this fall. He has taught at Salisbury University for the past 14 years and supports Delmar’s new CTE vocational education program as well as its sports teams.
Siers began by asking the graduates if they wanted a $100 bill he showed them before crumpling it up and eventually stepping on it. The Delmar grads raised their hands to show that they wanted it, even after it was stepped on.
“No matter what I did with that money, you still wanted it because it didn’t decrease in value,” he said. “No matter what happens or what happens to you, you will never lose your value, just like that $100 bill.”
He then offered 10 pieces of advice for the class of 2019: take advantage of opportunities, the only person you need to try to be better than is the person you were yesterday, have a clarity of purpose in life, sift through your priorities to see if they align with your core values, ignore all the critics, stay relentlessly positive, have a humble heart and a hunger for learning, reframe your failure and adversity to become a better person, serve others passionately, and the knowledge you accumulated during your high school career is worthless if it is unapplied in life.
“Failure and adversity are all a normal part of our lives. Failure is never final unless you allow it to be,” said Siers.
“Tonight marks the end of our four year career,” Angello said, adding that the sunrise offers a new beginning. “People have this illusion that success is defined by money or social status.”
He told his classmates that success can be defined by the following: do something you are passionate about, make an impact on those around you, and be happy. “No matter what your goals are in life, be zealous about them and you will be successful,” said Angello.