MMI Preparatory School honored the Class of 2022 during its 130th commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 26. Seniors received their diplomas from MMI Head of School Justin Kleinheider and Chair of the 2021-2022 Board of Directors Llewellyn F. Dryfoos, III ‘82.This year’s graduating class of 28 seniors were accepted at more than 81 percent of the colleges they applied to and amassed more than $8 million in merit scholarships and awards.
“The class of 2022 has certainly endured a few interesting high school years. We are so proud of their accomplishments and their resilience. Each member of this class has experienced different stages of the pandemic and we’re very pleased to be able to celebrate them in a traditional way this year. Completing MMI’s rigorous curriculum coupled with the amount of extra-curricular, athletic, community service, and work obligations, makes each graduate well prepared for life after high school,” said MMI Head of School Justin Kleinheider.
During commencement exercises, valedictorian Rachael Emma Betz shared that “We are all better people. Having such a small class has it pluses and minuses, but one thing I’m especially grateful for is how closely knit our relationships are. Unlike other high schools, we all know each other extremely well. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we’ve learned how to work together as a team. We know how to motivate each other, comfort each other, and how to make each other laugh.” She ended by saying, “May we all be the best we can be, and I truly wish you to fare well in whatever comes next.”
Salutatorian Olivia Grace Bartholomew expressed that if she had “one word to describe our four years of high school, it would be change. Throughout our four years of high school, our class has had so much change that arguably change is the one constant we have had. Our class experienced change more than almost any other.” She went on to say, “Why we weren’t always happiest with the constant change, it is through these changes that our class has grown closer and learned to adapt to anything thrown our way. Our adventure at MMI may be coming to a close, but it is just the beginning of our lifetime of adventures.”
Class President Daniella Marcef Vasquez Abreu remarked on how “The students in the class of 2022 are some of the most diverse and intelligent people I have had the pleasure of knowing. While I cannot speak for each one of my classmates’ journeys, I can speak to the fact that they successfully navigated high school with a world spinning faster than normal and that is something to be extremely proud of. I am certain, that no matter where life may take them, they will all be incredible and successful people, fearless in their expression and realizing they have a family of support standing behind them.”
Andrew Blasko and Jayden Bonham, who designed the Class of 2022 banner, spoke about the symbolism of the mountain and how it signifies perseverance. Jayden Bonham said, “We have climbed the mountain of high school and all of the challenges with it. We have learned that we have to climb above the storm to see the sun. The future classes likely will not remember us, but they will know we were here.”
Founders Day Address speaker, Dr. Sona A, Chikarmane ’99 shared with the graduates that “A few recurrent themes helped guide me to success, even during the most difficult times. They are (1) be your authentic self, (2) embrace change, and (3) build resilience. These are not always easy to do, but when you achieve a small part of these goals, you will find yourself better off than you were before and a bit more prepared for what you will encounter next, even when you have no idea what is behind the next door.”
During the ceremony Ashley Rose Loss was honored with the Faculty Award and the Joseph A. Chaykowski ’48 Memorial Prize for Mathematics and Science was awarded to Rachael Emma Betz. The Faculty Award is presented to the student who displays basic goodness and honesty while being a good example for their peers in his or her own way. The student is emotionally mature and treats others with empathy, compassion, and concern. The entire faculty selects the recipient from a number of worthy candidates. The Joseph A. Chaykowski ’48 Memorial Prize for Mathematics and Science is awarded to a member of the class who has the highest combined average grade point average in math and science throughout their four-year upper school experience. The award is named for a distinguished alumnus of MMI who studied engineering at Penn State and was an outstanding professional engineer. The award was founded in the memory of Joseph A. Chaykowski by his daughter, Ms. Lisa Chaykowski Merlo’80 and a member of the MMI Board of Directors until her unexpected and untimely passing.
Daniella Marcef Vasquez Abreu was honored with the Freeland Rotary Club Rotary Service Above Self Award, which recognizes and acknowledges a young person who by his or her actions has personified the Rotary Motto of “Service Above Self” in their school and community.
Members of MMI’s Class of 2022, their parents, and their hometowns are as follows:
Sandra Abdulrahman, daughter of Jihad and Basema Abdulrahman of Hazleton; Viva Kia Mia Barrett, daughter of Mark Barrett and Kheshan Melendez-Barrett of Pottsville; Olivia Grace Bartholomew, daughter of Dean Bartholomew and Cheryl Serafin-Bartholomew of Jim Thorpe; Rachael Emma Betz, daughter of Dr. Amy Houm of Tamaqua and Richard Betz of Honesdale; Andrew Blasko, son of Andrew Blasko ’84 of White Haven and Renee Lapchak of Mountain Top; Jayden Blake Bonham, son of C. William and Melissa Bonham of Sugarloaf; David Castro, son of Angel and Danielle Morales of Freeland; Chance Hayden Eyerly, son of Eric and Charisse Eyerly of West Hazleton; Gina Galada, daughter of Danielle Donadi and Joseph Galada of McAdoo; Lindsay Marie Horvat, daughter of Thomas and Lisa Horvat of Drums; Anna Olivia Hoxha, daughter of Telat and Edlira Hoxha of Hazleton; Ashley Rose Loss, daughter of Frederick and Melissa Loss of Hazle Township; Jacob Gerard Magula, son of Gerard and Sarah Magula of Hazleton; Thomas Joseph Mayernik, son of Thomas Mayernik and Valerie Rudawski of Freeland; Amelia Ann Minzola, daughter of Joseph and Debra Minzola of Drums; Katelyn Bridget Overa, daughter of Timothy and Lori Overa of Drums; Dustin Chester Paul, son of Rustin and Cynthia Paul of Jim Thorpe; Alex J. Smith, son of Johnny Smith’01 of White Haven; Connor Michael Spencer, son of Christopher and Christine Spencer of Mountain Top; Althea Joelene Stewart, daughter of Dina Hyduke of Drums; Morgan Elizabeth Strecker, daughter of Peter and Tara Strecker of Mountatin Top; Kennedy Kaitlyn Tavaris, daughter of Theresa and Nathan Myers of Mountain Top; Alexandra Maria Tierney, daughter of Thomas and Crystal Tierney of Freeland; Carson Kenneth Valkusky, son of Joseph Valkusky ‘79 and Gwen Valkusky of Drifton; Daniella Marcef Vasquez Abreu, daughter of Ramon Vasquez and Seily Abreu of Hazleton; Grace Lena-Ann Warner, daughter of Stanley B. Warner III ’92 of Drums and Heather Warner of Drums; Kaylee Elizabeth Witner, daughter of Michael and Kristi Witner of Freeland; Randy Zea, son of Milka Bonifacio of Hazleton, and Carlos Zea of Queens, NY.