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Turning tassels: Middletown Area High School Class of 2019 bids fond farewell

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/12/19

HARRISBURG — With a turn of a tassel, 137 seniors graduated from Middletown Area High School on June 4 at the Forum Auditorium.

This was the last graduating class to attend the old high …

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Turning tassels: Middletown Area High School Class of 2019 bids fond farewell

Posted

HARRISBURG — With a turn of a tassel, 137 seniors graduated from Middletown Area High School on June 4 at the Forum Auditorium.

This was the last graduating class to attend the old high school. Salutatorian Aayushi Patel recalled the “obstacle course” of trash cans that collected leaking water and walking to the middle school in the winter when there was a gas leak.

“We are the end of a generation, and as much as we laugh about it, we all know we loved our freshman year,” Patel said.

Commencement was the last time they would all be together in the same room.

“We will go our different ways, but we are part of each other, part of Middletown, and Middletown is a part of us. Once a Raider, always a Raider,” she said.

Aiden Sessa said it was his goal to be the valedictorian since freshman year, but having the highest grade-point average didn’t make him wise or special.

“What is special is being here at commencement with my classmates, all of the people I’ve known since elementary school,” Sessa said.

When it came time to write his speech, Sessa said he felt self-doubt, unsure of what to say. Everyone feels self-doubt, but you have to turn it into motivation to move forward, he said.

“Tonight, we will let these feelings go. Cast them aside. Tonight is validation that you can do it. You are good enough,” Sessa said.

The commencement speaker was Dr. Carl Kihm, a 2001 MAHS graduate, who is a podiatrist, or a foot and ankle doctor. He trains surgical residents at the Norton Audubon Hospital’s Kentucky Podiatric Medicine Residency Program in Louisville.

“Maybe you don’t know exactly what you’re going to do when you graduate, and where life will take you from here, but that’s OK,” Kihm said. “Sometimes life has to shake you a little bit to guide you where you’re supposed to be.”

When Kihm was a senior, he played on the soccer team. The team was advancing through the playoffs when he broke his ankle. His dream of being a state champion was shattered.

Although the team lost, it planted the seeds of his new dream to become a podiatrist.

But during his own graduation, Kihm remembered feeling unsure.

“I didn't realize it at that time, but Middletown Area High School has prepared me with a strong foundation for which I could grow academically and also through its principles and values. I quickly realized, ‘Yes, I could do it,’ and I’m telling you, you can do it, too,” he said.