2009-05-27 / News

Pettisville Graduates 49 In Sunday Ceremony

by David Pugh Buckeye Staff Writer

Alyssa Beck, a member of the Pettisville High School Class of 2009, receives the PHS Citizenship Award from Steve Switzer, district superintendent. The Citizenship Award is the highest honor given by the school. -  photo     by David Pugh    Alyssa Beck, a member of the Pettisville High School Class of 2009, receives the PHS Citizenship Award from Steve Switzer, district superintendent. The Citizenship Award is the highest honor given by the school. - photo by David Pugh It's not very often you hear a favorite teacher refer to a class of graduating seniors as liars.

But that's exactly what Rebecca Dorosz, an English teacher at Pettisville High School, said of the graduating class of 2009 during commencement, Sunday, May 24.

The lie they told, she said, centered around University of Toledo football player Bruce Gradkowski, who attended UT at the same time she did. Gradkowski later went on to play professional football.

In their junior year, some members of the Class of 2009 learned she was a UT grad. One asked if she knew any of the football players; another asked if she knew Gradkowski.

Dorosz said no, but another student misunderstood and yelled, "You dated Bruce Gradkowski?"

"I said 'No, that's how rumors get started,' and he said, 'Exactly.'"

Chris Holland, Pettisville, embraces Michael Deffely, a member of the Pettisville High School graduating class of 2009, in the receiving line following graduation, Sunday, May 24.- photo by David Pugh    Chris Holland, Pettisville, embraces Michael Deffely, a member of the Pettisville High School graduating class of 2009, in the receiving line following graduation, Sunday, May 24.- photo by David Pugh By the end of the school's fourth period, the lie had been propagated to the point that the entire class was convinced that not only had she dated Gradkowski, but the pair were engaged.

It didn't stop there.

"I received cards from Bruce. He left notes and poems on my chalkboard. I got flowers from him on Valentine's Day, and my prom invitation had his name on it," she told the audience.

She said some parents in the audience would surely believe that their youngster would not be involved in a lie.

"You would be surprised," she said.

Then, she said, suddenly the Dorosz-Gradkowski "relationship" abruptly stopped. The notes, the jokes, the rumors, suddenly ceased.

Later, Dorosz learned another teacher played a reverse prank on the members of the Class of 2009, telling class members Dorosz was so upset by the whole affair, she had been seen crying in the hallway.

The fact that the Gradkowski affair suddenly stopped is proof of the character of the class members.

"On the surface, it looked like they liked to tell lies. But they never intended to hurt anyone. That's what I find to be so remarkable," she said.

She urged the class members to probe the depths of the world around them, to have a positive attitude, and to encourage others.

"Life means nothing if it is lived only for yourself. It's not all about you," she said.

Accomplishments

Steve Switzer, district superintendent, told class members he enjoyed watching them grow up.

"At times, I remember saying to you, 'Grow Up!'"

But he listed the accomplishments of the class that had provided solid leadership in the high school.

In athletics, they were Buckeye Border Conference allsports champions three years out of four, had the best soccer record in school history, the best baseball record in 25 years, and the girls track team won the district meet.

They kept up the tradition of winning the league boys basketball title. Pettisville has held the honor since graduating seniors were sixth graders.

They have excelled in agriculture and science fair competitions, and even won the Williams County academic championship, although Switzer admitted he was somewhat puzzled how a Fulton County school had done that.

David Ripke, guidance counselor, said the Class of '09 had been a tremendous academic class.

Out of the 49 graduates, 21 were honors students, with grade point averages of 3.3 or higher. There were 26 with GPAs of 3.0 or higher.

Out of 49 students, 38 had an American College Test (ACT) average score of 24.3, which ranked them in the 75th percentile.

"Only 25% of those taking the test scored higher than the average score of this class," he said.

Six members of the Class of 2009 had an ACT score of 30 or higher, scoring them in the 96th percentile.

Members of the Class of 2009 had applied to 30 colleges and universities, and at least 16 had been offered the highest scholarship available at those colleges.

All told, the Class of 2009 had received 65 scholarships, with a four-year potential value of more than $1.2 million, Ripke said.

Class Speakers

Alyssa Beck was named the Class's Citizenship Award winner, the highest honor a PHS graduating senior can receive.

In her speech, she talked about memories being made, and about class members being pushed out of their comfort zones.

To illustrate her point, she talked about a junior high dance. She said it was halfway through the event before she could persuade enough friends to actually go out on the dance floor with her.

"Then came the dreaded slow dance," she said.

She partnered with a boy, "and I was holding him so far away with my long arms, that he simply danced with his arms at his sides."

She told her classmates graduation was not the end of the memory-making process, and encouraged them "to try new things, and not be afraid of messing up."

Jimmy Baatz spoke about the past, the present, and the future.

The teenage years, he said, were a time of change, because of the constant changes in the world around them.

He urged his fellow classmates to "live each moment as a once-in-a-lifetime celebration."

Yu Lin Lin Huang told her classmates life is like a boat and talked about the lessons learned while being tossed about the stormy seas of life.

She told classmates that failure is an education in itself, and that she had partially been driven to her own accomplishments by the fear of failure.

But after her greatest fears were realized, she was relieved, because that failure had occurred and she was still all right.

She thanked her teachers, parents and members of the community for "acting as our personal flotation devices" and "guiding us through the troubled waves of adolescence, steering us to the safe harbor of adulthood."

Ripke said the Class of 2009 is made up of "the highest quality individuals.

"Your community, the faculty, staff, and especially, your parents, are very proud of you.

"What we expect of your future is nothing less than what you've given us in the past."

Return to top