PUNXSUTAWNEY — Everybody makes mistakes — even people who are the valedictorians of their classes and go on to become medical professionals.
Dr. Frank Bizousky pointed out a few missteps in his school career as the guest speaker for the PAHS Class of 2012’s commencement exercises Friday night, but by and large, he said, things work out when one makes amends.
“It goes to show you, even though I ended up as valedictorian of my class, (of 1978), I made some mistakes,” said Bizousky, whose daughter, Erika, was among the 164 seniors — the smallest class in the district’s history — receiving diplomas. “We’ve all made mistakes, but own up to them, apologize, and learn so you don’t make the same mistake.”
One such incident was in a study hall at Mary A. Wilson, when, done with his work, Bizousky thought it was a good idea to make a paper football, and, with encouragement from his friend, attempted to flick the football on the desk of the teacher — who also happened to be the principal.
“I boinged it with all the force I had,” and with a good trajectory and distance, the football overshot the desk and hit the principal between the eyes.
“His head was down, because he was reading, so he didn’t see who did it,” Bizousky said.
When he principal asked who boinged the football, Bizousky said he owned up and raised his hand.
“Obviously, I did not use the best judgement there,” he said.
Another time, Bizousky thought of a great practical joke to play on his friend in art class, by tying one end of a piece of string to the can of red paint his friend was using, and tying the other end to his friend’s chair, so the paint would spill when he got up.
The plan worked, Bizousky said, and the paint successfully spilled all over his friend, as well as the teacher, who was standing nearby.
“I said, ‘I meant for it to hit my best friend, not her,’” he said. That plea didn’t work well, either.
Bizousky said at age six, he knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. That plan was fine, he said, but it left him with no alternatives.
He said he was shaken when he was not accepted into the first school of his choosing, but he didn’t give up.
“Perseverance enabled me to achieve this lifelong dream,” Bizousky said, and noted that seniors should not be discouraged, either, when things don’t go their way.
He recalled sitting in the same situation at PAHS in 1978 when he graduated, apprehensive about leaving but proud of his accomplishments.
“There was a sense of sadness that we were parting ways, but a sense of relief that I finally did it,” Bizousky said. “You have finally done it as well.”
In her remarks, valedictorian Sierra Milton told her classmates to enjoy the little things, and that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence — but “When you cross the fence, tend to the grass wherever you go.”
She also said to be spontaneous, fall in love, be loved and “Whatever you end up being, make sure you are your best self.”
“We all have different dreams for the future, and those dreams are all unique and attainable,” she said. “Today is our day.”
Class President Alex Fedigan began his remarks by saying, in a slight whisper, “I can’t believe we’re done.”
“Now as we move to the rest of our lives, look what got us here,” he said. “From Baker to Zambory, we all made it.”
Fedigan also discussed a team strategy created by PAHS football coach Alan Nichol: Play all 48 minutes; have a great defense; and “We only need 11; if we had more, we’d be even better.”
Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said Thursday marked “the capstone of your education thus far, and it’s for recognition for the time, effort and hard work.”
The Class of 2012’s 13 years in public education may be over, he said, “But never stop learning.”
Regardless of the direction one takes, “there are countless avenues to expand your knowledge base,” Wolfe said.
One day, members of the class will have their own children, and when that happens, they should become involved in their children’s activities.
“There’s no more important job in the world than being a good parent,” Wolfe said.