MMI Preparatory School in Freeland, conducted its 122nd Commencement Exercises on Thursday, May 22, as seniors were awarded diplomas by Brian G. Lucas ’84, chairman of MMI’s Board of Directors.
This year’s graduating class of 35 seniors amassed more than $6.6 million in merit scholarships and awards. The 2014 graduating class also attained an average SAT score of 1787, several hundred points above state and national averages. The Class of 2014’s average ACT score is 26.
The commencement address was delivered by Nick Benz, chief operating officer of Dogfish Head Breweries. Benz, the valedictorian of MMI’s Class of 1992, is the chief operating officer of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, the 20th largest brewery in the United States, based in Milton, Delaware. He joined the brewery in 2003 as chief financial officer and is today a partial owner of the company. By the end of this year, he will assume the role of chief executive officer.
Benz encouraged the graduates to pursue a career they love, saying, "Be the best at it. Set a super high standard for yourself and go make it happen. If you don’t enjoy it, someday you’ll wonder, ‘Why I am doing this?’ How you respond to setbacks is also important. You will make some colossal mistakes, but one step back does not mean you can’t pick yourself up, dust yourself off and take two steps forward. That’s what develops resiliency.”
During commencement exercises, valedictorian Roger Knittle told his fellow graduates, "MMI has prepared us to face and overcome challenges, challenges that we will be presented with in our future lives. Therefore, this graduation marks the end of practicing the skills we were taught here, and the beginning of applying them to the real world so that we not only can advance our own positions in this world, but also can advance the world by tackling challenges with innovative and intelligent solutions. MMI has taught us the skill of enduring through challenges. This skill is critical in life, because as the British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton put it best, ‘By endurance we conquer.’”
Class president Maria Carrato shared some of her favorite memories of the senior class, concluding with, "So whether you’re living down south in Tennessee or on the west coast in California or traveling the world from country to country, always remember where you came from. Home is where your heart is, and the memories we made here will be in our heart forever.”
Salutatorian Jeffrey Careyva also addressed his classmates.
Members of MMI’s Class of 2014, their parents and their hometowns are as follows: Emily Alexandra Alvear, daughter of Andre Alvear, Hazleton, and Joan Alvear, Hazleton; Alec Michael Andes, son of Brian and Jodell Andes, Mountaintop; Cassandra Marion Bluth, daughter of Gregg and Virginia Bluth, Mountaintop; Carolyn Francis Brennan, daughter of Ailinn Brennan and Andrew Roberts, Jim Thorpe; Jeffrey Allen Bridges II, son of Annamarie Bridges, Hazleton, and Jeffrey Bridges, West Hazleton; Jeffrey Ryan Careyva, son of Edward and Jill Careyva, Ringtown; Maria Nicole Carrato, daughter of Anthony and Carmine Carrato, Hazleton; Paige Madison Darrow, daughter of John and Gertie Darrow, Hazleton; Jonathan Edward DeJesus, son of Leann and Diogenes DeJesus, Drums; Elijah Mason Dove, son of Eric and Susan Dove, Mountaintop; Patrick Daniel Driscoll, son of John and Susan Driscoll, Hazle Township; Alexander Drusda, son of Jeffrey and Linda Drusda, Drums; Amber Lynn Ferry, daughter of John and Lisa Ferry, Drums; Alexander Richard Haber, son of John and Cathryn Haber, Tresckow; Kevin Hysenbegasi, son of Sezai and Lirie Hysenbegasi, Hazle Township; Sarah Jessica Jamack, daughter of Nancy Jamack, Sugarloaf, and the late William Jamack; Druva Kansara, son of Sanjay and Usha Kansara, Drums; Charles Robert Karchner, son of Charles and Cheryl Karchner, West Hazleton; Roger C. Knittle, son of Roger and Sherry Knittle, Ringtown; Robert James Kupsho III, son of Robert and Diane Kupsho, Drums; Hannah Katherine Lesitsky, daugher of Neil and Julie Lesitsky, Albrightsville; Sara Elizabeth Lucas, daughter of Brian and Kathy Lucas, Drums; Devan Ashleigh McCarrie, daughter of John and Caren McCarrie, Hazleton; Eleni Nicole Moustardas, daughter of Gabriela Moustardas, White Haven; Austin Douglas Muir, son of Scott and Debra Muir, Sugarloaf; Mitchell Anthony Muir, son of Scott and Debra Muir, Sugarloaf; Stephanie Rose Pudish, daughter of Robert and Victoria Pudish, Mountaintop; Kristen Leigh Purcell, daughter of David and Kathleen Purcell, Drums; Robert Allen Rosamelia Jr., son of Elizabeth Rosamelia, Hazleton; Mariah Serra, daughter of Jamie Serra, Conyngham, and Maureen Serra, Conyngham; Hayle Lyn Shearer, son of Lisa and John Ferry, Drums, and Scott Shearer; Kaitlyn Rose Sitch, daughter of Mark and Rosemarie Sitch, Weatherly; Elias John Slusser, son of Thomas and Kimberly Slusser, West Hazleton; Alexis Joi Williams, daughter of Orlando and Karen Williams, West Hazleton; and Joseph Nathaniel Yamulla, son of Robert and Ann Yamulla, Sugarloaf.