MMI Preparatory School in Freeland, PA conducted its 121st Commencement Exercises on Thursday, May 23, 2013, as seniors were awarded diplomas by Brian G. Lucas ’84, chairman of MMI’s Board of Directors.
This year’s graduating class of 43 seniors amassed more than $7.9 million in merit scholarships and awards. The 2013 graduating class also attained an average SAT score of 1783, several hundred points above state and national averages. The Class of 2013’s average ACT score is 27, while the national average is 21.
The commencement address was delivered by Michael Watahovich ’61, who has dedicated his career to physical activity and education. He worked as a health and physical education instructor for the Hazleton Area School District for 31 years, teaching students from kindergarten to grade 12. He worked with the Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 as a GED instructor, Job Club supervisor and testing specialist, providing GED and psychological testing and driver training instruction to Pennsylvania CareerLink clients. Today, he is the fitness director at First Quality Nonwovens and performs clinical hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) at Degenhart Chiropractic.
Watahovich competed in a number of state, regional, national and international powerlifting contests, earning first place in many of those contests. He was inducted into MMI’s Wall of Fame for Athletic Achievement in 2010 and inducted into the Hazleton Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
Watahovich spoke to students about what he described as "the Momentum Factor,” saying, "While it may take 10 units of energy to get you moving in a particular direction, it takes only one unit of energy to keep you moving once you’re in motion. You have the principle of momentum working in your favor. …How do you use the Momentum Factor in your life? Well, it’s simple. You decide upon one key quality that you need to develop in order to accomplish one key goal that you want to accomplish. Then every single day, you work simultaneously on developing that quality and on taking steps toward the accomplishment of that goal. Once you put the ball into play, you keep the game going, every single day, without stopping.”
He said, "When you set clear goals or objectives for yourself, when you dream big dreams and then determine to become the kind of person who’s capable of achieving the kind of goals that you want to achieve, you convince yourself, at a deep, subconscious level, that you’re absolutely unstoppable. You realize at last that nothing in the world can hold you back except your own thinking, and you don’t even let your own thinking limit your potential. If you learn to be powerful and develop self-confidence by working progressively, every day, toward becoming the kind of person you want to be, and toward living the kind of life you want to live, you’ll unlock the giant within you, and it will never go back inside.”
In closing, Watahovich said, "What I’ve presented to you tonight is a way of regaining your wings – to realize you’ve always had them and can use them to soar as high as you want. Picture the dream life you want to live, find the best way to take that first step, and then the second, and then the third, and learn to stay on course. Before long – perhaps a lot sooner than you expect – you’ll be in full flight."
During commencement exercises, valedictorian David Polashenski told his fellow graduates, "I know that the life lessons learned this year, coupled with excellent education we have received from so many dedicated, passionate teachers, will contribute to the success of each and every one of us.”
Salutatorian Gregory Yannes also addressed his classmates.
Members of MMI’s Class of 2013, their parents and their hometowns are as follows: Ashley Elizabeth Acri, daughter of Louis and Loretta Acri, Hazleton; Anthony James Alfieri, son of Paula Alfieri, Hazleton, and Anthony Alfieri, Lakeville; Ashmeen Bains, daughter of Ravinder and Vikram Bains, Sugarloaf; Alexandra Baran, daughter of Richard and Maxine Baran, Sugarloaf; Noah Charles Beltrami, son of Elizabeth Beltrami, Hazleton, and the late Joseph Beltrami; Cassie Marie Caldwell, daughter of David and Maria Caldwell, Mountaintop; Timothy Sean Connors, son of Regina Connors, Hazle Township; Maurina Rose DiSabella, daughter of Joseph and Deborah DiSabella, Sugarloaf; John Michael Driscoll, III, son of John and Susan Driscoll, Hazle Township; Sean Patrick Ducaji-Reap, son of Marion and Frank Babula, Mountaintop, and Martin Reap, Laughlin; Brianna Dzurishin, daughter of Joseph and Sherri Dzurishin, Hazleton; Katlyn Fowler Frey, daughter of Jaclyn Fowler, Drifton, and Eric Frey, Lancaster; Laurel Jacketti Funk, daughter of Wayne Funk and Maria Jacketti-Funk, Hazleton; Sandrine Agbayani Gibbons, daughter of Russell and Edna Gibbons, Mountaintop; Trebor Ryan Hall, son of Toni Foselli, Mountaintop, and Mark Hall, Texas; Alexis Nicole Haupt, daughter of David and Mary Ann Haupt, Hazle Township; Lindsey Joseph, daughter of Timothy and Georgiann Joseph, Drums; Kayla Marie Karchner, daughter of Charles and Cheryl Karchner, West Hazleton; Megan Elizabeth Klein, daughter of Edward and Susan Klein, Drums; Aaron Jacob Kollar, son of Janice Kollar, Freeland, and Ronald Kollar, Drifton; Cindi Elaine Landmesser, daughter of Philip Landmesser and Teresa Zierden-Landmesser, Sugarloaf; Gabriella Rose Lobitz, daughter of Mark and Stephanie Lobitz, Hazleton; Jeffrey Michael Lotz II, son of Jeffrey and Nancy Lotz, Sugarloaf; Dominic Vincent Maduro, son of Joseph and PollyAnn Maduro, Freeland; Casey Patrick McCoy, son of Daniel and Danielle McCoy, White Haven; Brianna Marie Nocchi, daughter of Kathleen Nocchi, Freeland; Rebecca Nicole Noga, daughter of Michael and Valerie Noga, Hazleton; Nicholas William O’Clair, son of Timothy and Candice O’Clair, Drums; Casey Andrew Olszewski, son of Nicole Borland, Weatherly, and Paul Olszewski, Weatherly; Chiarra Lynne Overpeck, daughter of Christina Geist and Richard Gortva, Hazleton; Anjni Praful Patel, daughter of Praful and Bhavanaben Patel, Beaver Meadows; David James Polashenski, son of Edward and Jessica Polashenski, Drums; Farrah Firdous Syeda Qadri, daughter of Syed and Saffiyah Qadri, Drums; Beau Adelberto Samonte, son of Enrique and Alexies Samonte, Mountaintop; Derya Sari, daughter of Izzet and Mumine Sari, Sugarloaf; Michael Scott Sarno, son of Susan and Larry Pecora, Drums; Lora Mae Schell, daughter of Crystal Schell, Freeland, and David Schell, Fern Glen; Justin Kihyun Sheen, son of Kwangsup and Chaeyun Sheen, Mountaintop; Devon Marie Sherwood, daughter of John and Mary Ann Sherwood, Lehighton; Marianne Louise Virnelson, daughter of Kathleen Virnelson, Fern Glen; Gregory Nicholas Yannes, son of Robert and Christine Yannes, White Haven; Kirsten Lee Young, daughter of Bradley and Wendy Young, Drums; and Matthew David Yurish, son of Thomas and JuleAnn Yurish, Freeland.