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STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER Elk Lake High School graduated 72 at its 60th annual commencement ceremony Saturday morning in the high school auditorium in Dimock Twp.

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Kim Dymond was the faculty keynote speaker.

Some 72 Elk Lake graduates and family and friends got a homespun talk Saturday morning about the ‘Quilt of Life’ from veteran science teacher Kim Dymond, who spent the last 29 years teaching at Elk Lake and who the grads elected to give their keynote address.

Dymond noted that when she would tell kids over the years “you have five minutes left,” you could sense expressions of panic and whispers that more time was needed.

“Today, I suspect that phrase will lead you to smiles and sighs of relief,” she said.

Dymond, a Tunkhannock Area grad, reached back into her own childhood a half century ago and shared a story from her first day in kindergarten where she learned quickly about life. She said she had not yet known how to read but her teacher gave each student a note about a small quilt to help with nap time, and explained what it said.

The note essentially told of local stores where the item could be purchased, and she dutifully gave it to her mother when she got home from work.

She recalled, “My mother read the letter, looked at me, and gently said, ‘No Kim, we can’t buy one.’”

“OK” was the child’s reply, Dymond said. “You see I grew up in a time when parents said no... it wasn’t an open invitation for negotiation.”

“It just meant ‘No.’”

The following Monday she remembered getting ready for school with her sisters and alongside her lunch was a little something extra. It turned out to be a small quilt that her mom made from scraps of material, and Dymond said she still has it.

She said she shared the memory because you will discover over time that things that mean the most will never be able to be purchased, and also because she felt the students were building their own quilt of life with the Elk Lake block nearly completed.

In life, she said, “you will have to choose to make progress or to make excuses; to be portrayed as a victim or as a survivor; to be an active participant or merely an onlooker.”

“Time’s up seniors!” she said.

Dymond noted the students had defeated the old adage of not being able to fit a square peg into a round hole by successfully fitting a square cap onto a round head.

“Keep challenging yourself,” she smiled, and “you’ll find the answers.”

Opening the graduation service, class president Korena Kraynack, noted her class was the last to be born in the 1990s.

“Every year we got smarter, taller, stronger and got closer to the people we are today,” she said. “We are ready to embrace the change that is about to happen.”

Salutatorian Catherine McAleer said she was among those who had not yet found herself and was going off to college undecided on a major.

While the future might seem a little scary, she said, “At the end of the day you are not here to please everyone else. You’ve got to be able to find peace within yourself and strength to do what you love for yourself. We cannot be afraid to break the mold.”

Valedictorian Justine Johns quoted from Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

She said it really doesn’t matter what your grades are or were; it’s just a number.

Johns added, “I am happy to be speaking today, but feel no more deserving than any person on this stage. We all worked hard to get here.”

She concluded, “Don’t let anything ruin your happiness, and like Mrs. Carey said, ‘Always look for the rainbow.’”

Before handing out diplomas, superintendent Kenneth Cuomo shared some wisdom from the class’ motto, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and also paraphrasing from a favorite recording artist.

“Don’t let the valuable relationships of life slip on by,” he said.

Members of the Class of 2017 included: Christopher Arnold, Harlee Baker, Nadya Beasley, Dylan Benscoter, Jack Bishop, Katelyn Blaisure, Bethany Bleil, Austin Boom, Katlyn Brewer, Keryne Brostoski, Griffin Bunnell, Blake Chew, Jamielynn Cohn, Holden Cole, Isabel Comly, Emily Cornelius, Trevor Crawford, Kyle Day, Evan Debonis, Miranda Decker, Arianna DeGrote, Cydney DeWitt, Matthew Doolittle, Madeline Edwards, Rodney Ely, Samantha Ely, Samantha Evans, Shyan Fassett, Zachary Groover, Jennifer Grosvenor, Jacob Hand, Natalie Head, Lexus Hemenway, Roberto Hernandez-Perez, Alexander Hewitt, Lydia Hunsinger, Tallia Isenberg, Justine Johns, Keri Jones, Korena Kraynak, Francisco Lopez, Vanessa Lopez-Ordaz, Catherine McAleer, James McIntyre, Joseph McLeer, Amanda Mowry, and Garett Mowry.

Also, Mercedes Noble, Starr Nonnemacher, Robert Norcross, Carlee Olenick, Cole Orlandini, Salma Ortiz, Timothy Pisaneschi, Olivia Riscavage, Andrea Rockefeller, Catherine Ruppert, Juan Santillan, Devyn Saylor, Courtney Shafer, Briana Smith, Dakota States, Parke States, Brandon Traver, Brianna Tuffy, Caleigh Tyler, Terry Tyler, Whitney Tyler, Julie VanEtten, Jason Vazquez, Owen Vosburg, Brittany Warfle, Miranda Warner, Benjamin Woolcock, and Breanna Yonkin.

VALEDICTORIAN Name: Justine Johns

Hometown: Meshoppen

Parents: Thomas and Heather Johns

Activities: National Honor Society, basketball, softball, track and field, and cross country

Plans: Marywood University to study nursing

SALUTATORIAN Name: Catherine McAleer

Hometown: Meshoppen

Parents: Scott and Colleen McAleer

Activities: National Honor Society, yearbook, softball, and soccer

Plans: Indiana University of Pennsylvania honors college