MMI Preparatory School in Freeland conducted its 127th commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 23 as seniors were awarded diplomas by MMI Acting Head of School William A. Shergalis, Ph.D. ’58 and Chairman of the Board of Directors John H. Hersker ’76.
This year’s graduating class of 42 seniors amassed more than $6.2 million in merit scholarships and awards. The 2019 graduating class also attained an average score of 1254 on the Redesigned SAT. The Class of 2019’s average ACT score is 26.
Members of the Class of 2019 were accepted at more than 75% of the colleges they applied to and will attend 22 different colleges and universities this fall.
Andrew Krzywicki Straw ’75, the global portfolio manager for fiber optic connectivity product development at Corning Incorporated and a former Colonel in the Army Reserve, delivered the Founder’s Day Address. In talking about their next stage in life, Straw told the graduates, “Don’t worry if you haven’t got it all figured out.” He suggested they approach college as an exploration and cited the many opportunities to learn and experience new things in that environment. His lesson of advice was the age-old adage “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” He added that a secret to doing well is effectively managing one’s own time and energy.
During commencement exercises, valedictorian Alexander Gerard Kline reflected on his classmates and teachers and how the Class of 2019 came together as a community. Kline said, “What makes our class so amazing is not the merits of its individual members but how well we meshed with one another. In a world characterized by divisions and polarity, I’d like to challenge the Class of 2019 to bring the same sense of mutual respect, decency, and cohesion that you brought to MMI to wherever you find yourself in the future. The world will be better off for it.” He added, “And while no two of us experienced MMI the same way, it has undoubtedly been a powerful force in shaping the people we are today and who we will be tomorrow.”
Salutatorian Frederick Mejia welcomed those in attendance and reminded all to live in the present and appreciate each moment before it becomes just a memory. Mejia said, “To put it simply, all I ask from us is to try and enjoy the present while it’s still the present. Tonight is the grand finale and culmination of the Class of 2019’s high school career. It’s the most important night of our lives thus far and it’ll only happen once, so remember to live in the moment.”
Class President Nicholas Michael Carrato shared some memories of the Class of 2019 and asked his classmates to answer the questions of what they want to do in their lives and, more importantly, who they want to become. Carrato said, “In a few hours, we will be leaving MMI as the newest group of alumni. Yes, we have thrived as a collective throughout our time together, but unfortunately, come August, our classes are going to be a little larger than 22 people. However, if there is one certainty from our experience, it is that these minor challenges we faced along the way have all contributed to us, as individuals, to discover who we want to be. Our collective ‘who’ is immortalized within the walls of MMI.”
Members of MMI’s Class of 2019, their parents, and their hometowns are as follows: Mahum Ahmed, daughter of Dr. Asad and Dr. Bina Ahmed, Mountaintop; Kaitlyn Marie Bellizia, daughter of Thomas and Mary Ann Bellizia, Sugarloaf; Emmanuel Elias Bisono, son of Juan and Cecilia Bisono, Hazle Township; Elliot McAllister Blasko, son of Mark and Susan Blasko, White Haven; Elizabeth Antonia Borchick, daughter of Lance and Cynthia Borchick, Drums; Nicholas Michael Carrato, son of Dr. Anthony and Carmine Carrato, Hazleton; Joel Daniel Cruz, son of Nilsa Cruz, Hazleton; Andrew David Decker, son of Atty. Elizabeth and Troy Topolski, Sugarloaf and Aaron Decker, Kingston; Tyler John Degenhart, son of Dr. John and Janet Degenhart, Hazleton; Daniel Joseph DeMelfi, son of Daniel and Esme DeMelfi, Hazleton; Reiley Parker DeStefano, son of Richard and Helen DeStefano, Freeland; Ian Dewar, son of Alec and Syra Dewar, Drums; Madeline Dolores Dryfoos, daughter of Llewellyn and Maura Dryfoos, Sugarloaf; Elizabeth Erin Eckhart, daughter of Charles and Kim Eckhart, Lehighton; Summer Madison Evancho, daughter of John Evancho, Sugarloaf and the late Joan Evancho; Wesley Lee Guarneri, son of Vincent and Sop Guarneri, Wilkes-Barre; Lauren Marie Herman, daughter of Michael and Stacy Herman, Freeland; Keefer Cyril Hoover, son of Jai and Ninotchka Hoover, Mountaintop; Elise Irene Hreha, daughter of Eric and Elizabeth Hreha, White Haven; Kelisa Hysenbegasi, daughter of Sezai and Lirie Hysenbegasi, Hazle Township; Julia Marie Jenigen, daughter of Kevin Jenigen and Christine DiPasquale, Freeland; Amanda Lynn Kalada-Kania, daughter of Kevin Kania and Susan Kalada, Drums; Alexander Gerard Kline, son of Dr. Gerard and Caterina Kline, Mountaintop; Morgan David Long, son of David and Theresa Long, Mountaintop; Matthew David Marchetti, son of David and Andrea Marchetti, Freeland; Jessica Erin McClellan, daughter of Bruce and Patricia McClellan, Freeland; Kaitlyn Elise McGeehan, daughter of Thomas and Sandra McGeehan, Drums; Frederick Mejia, son of Carlos and Esperanza Mejia, West Hazleton; Emily Marguerite Mundorf, daughter of Thomas and Patricia Mundorf, Mountaintop; Christine Park, daughter of Jae and Young Park, Hazleton Township; Brian J. Payne, Jr., son of Brian Payne, Sugarloaf and the late Marie Payne; Tessa Nicole Keyser Peluso, daughter of Chandra Keyser, Hazle Township and Daniel Peluso, Coatesville; Desiree Marie Petrick, daughter of John Petrick, Freeland; Ariah Saeed, daughter of Zubeen Saeed, Mountaintop; Maxwell Santana Aquino, son of Yris Aquino, Hazleton; Alexander John Sessock, son of Jennifer and James Denion, Freeland and the late John Sessock; Bailey Elizabeth Slusser, daughter of Atty. Christopher Slusser, Sugarloaf and Amy St. Pierre, Drums; Coleman Peter Smith, son of Keith and Laura Smith, White Haven; Alyssa Marie Sweda, daughter of John and Jacqueline Sweda, Hazle Township; Ethan Stanley Warner, son of Stanley B. Warner, III, Drums and Heather Warner, Drums; Justin Thomas Weiksner, son of Mary Ann and William Flyzik, Freeland and Daniel Weiksner, Coaldale; and Zachary Joseph Young, son of Christian and Nicole Young, Freeland.