Littlestown High School’s Class of 2019 became the first to have its commencement in the new Thunderbolt Stadium Friday.

Like the World War II-era P-47 Thunderbolt warplane, a sculpture of which adorns the stadium, the class is tough, able to fly high and fast, and will help change the world, district Superintendent Christopher Bigger said.

This class will truly be flying first class” as its members take off into the wider world, said its president, Jessie Naill.

Naill said she was reluctant to “turn the final page of our book.”

From elementary-school days when “2019 was just a big number,” through the “awkward journey” of middle school, to honing a wide range of talents in high school, “our class really left a mark here,” she said.

Graduation is “bittersweet,” Naill said, but “it is not the end. It’s the beginning of something great.”

Commencement was “the dust of our high school career and the dawn of our lives,” valedictorian Regan Schroeder said.

She thanked Littlestown’s “amazing faculty and staff,” who “helped spur my passion for learning.”

“Twelve years passed in the blink of an eye,” Schroeder said as she recounted memories, such as a third-grade trip to Washington, D.C., that transformed the class into “a 130-person family.”

“It’s OK to fail. That’s how we learn and grow,” she said, and “it’s absolutely OK to ask for help.”

Those strategies coupled with a trust in one’s instincts will help the class “make the world better than we found it,” Schroeder said.

“The traditional path isn’t always the best path,” said salutatorian Victoria Kelly.

“Courage, determination, and willingness to take on something new” are the way to “be the change you want to see and inspire the people around you,” she said.

Members of the class so far have received $2.3 million in grants and scholarships, said Bigger, who praised families for supporting students “from diapers to a diploma.”

Bigger recalled Rolling Acres Elementary School, the former site of which lay under the graduates’ feet.

“You stand on the values and shoulders of all who came before you,” he said.

“Small rural Pennsylvania towns like Littlestown make up the heartbeat of America,” Bigger said, urging the graduates to “make compassion part of your daily life.”

All the speakers thanked their families and friends, teachers, and school staff members for making their graduation possible.

The Littlestown High School Concert Band performed “Pomp and Circumstance” and selections from “Aladdin.”

The school chorus performed “Go the Distance.”

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