Josh Potts, Ephrata High School’s Class of 2021 salutatorian, contemplated what it really means to be ready as he stood before his classmates Friday evening.

War Memorial Field welcomed the 286 seniors one last time to reminisce on the past four years. A total of 312 students graduated.

Potts told his peers to take a leap of faith, quoting young adult author Lemony Snickets famous line, “If we wait until we are ready, we will be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

“Being ready doesn’t mean that we need to have the rest of our lives planned out,” he said. “Being ready means that we are utilizing the skills and knowledge we have learned and implementing these components in our lives.”

Ezekiel Jones, class valedictorian — with a 4.687 weighted grade point average — said the real problem with being ready is a person’s fear on whether or not they are ready.

“For some, overcoming doubts may be as simple as telling ourselves to ignore them and push through, while others may have to take further measures,” he said. “But for all of us it is worth the struggle in order to realize the potential we have.”

After all, they don’t have the rest of their lives to wait, said student speaker Ashlyn Mazzocchi. Graduating amid a global pandemic proved that special events or moments cannot be taken for granted.

“We missed out on our opportunity to have one last everything: one last student section, one last field trip, one last Meet the Mounts, and one last homecoming,” she said. “Yet, we kept smiling behind the masks and made the best out of the situation. That’s what we do as mountaineers.”

Last year’s class made do without a formal commencement. Instead, the school organized a drive-through ceremony. Students and their families drove by as administrators handed out their diplomas. But the past academic year was not without its challenges.

Superintendent Brian Troop likened it to climbing up an uncharted mountain — perhaps it’s an easy comparison with a mountaineer as the school mascot, he remarked.

“The way in which we all stumbled at times and got back up over the last 15 months — that was excellent,” he said.

A group of 33 students completed the Life Ready Graduate program meaning they maintained a high attendance rate, strong GPA and did volunteer, extracurricular or paid work. Another 48 were recognized for leaving high school and moving on to the Lancaster County Career and Technology Center. Students were also recognized for membership in the National Honors Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, German Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.

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