Class president Nevaeh Acosta thinks of resilience through the symbolism of a lotus flower — mainly its representation of perseverance.

And three women in her life — her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother — embodied that perseverance by going through obstacles in their lives and standing tall.

“Every one of us is a lotus flower,” she said. “We have all done the impossible and pushed through the obstacles.”

That message of struggle, perseverance and hope was woven throughout all of the speeches given during J.P. McCaskey’s 85th commencement ceremony.

The students in the Class of 2019 have earned more college credits than any class before, have scored higher on technical skills test and earned the Lancaster-Lebanon League Sportsmanship award for the first time in yearly 20 years, Superintendent Damaris Rau said.

“You are Lancaster’s pride and joy,” Mayor Danene Sorace said.

However, the class of around 700 students went through collective and personal loss throughout their four years, graduate Kayshleen Rivera-Placido said.

And although many have gone through more than any teenagers should have to bear, they have reached graduation stronger, she said.

“Never forget that we have the resiliency and determination to succeed, and never forget that we are the living proof that while life can knock us down, we will always get back up again,” Rivera-Placido said.

And that spirit of hope is what Angel Pena encouraged the audience and students to take away from the story of his struggle with depression.

“It’s OK to talk about things that you’re least comfortable with,” he said. “Everyone has battles that they go through, and it’s OK to ask for help.”

Building a network of support is how she got through her challenges, Nalila O. Ramos, another senior speaker, said.

“We have the world at our feet, and it’s up to us to make it a better world for everyone,” she said.

Senior Nicte Machado Aco was chosen as the 2019 McCaskey Hall of Honor inductee. Her framed picture will hang permanently at both campuses.