JOHNSONBURG – Inspired by a quote from Henry Kissinger-- "Accept everything about yourself… I mean everything, you are you, and that is the beginning and the end… no apologies, no regrets," Tommy Imbrogno took the stage Friday night as salutatorian of the Johnsonburg Area School District's Class of 2012.
Imbrogno discussed the importance of friendship and the way in which an individual attains a unique personality.
"I believe a person begins by venturing through childhood with an open point of view, taking in everything around them and learning from each new experience," Imbrogno said. "Then, they will realize that there is a difference between what is right and what is wrong, followed by a major characteristic in achieving the 'teenager' status… responsibility.
"However, most people do not consider the small things involved in truly shaping a person, such as their hometown, family life, friends, and high school career, which should be understood as essential factors in becoming one's own self."
Imbrogno shared his recollection of feeling fearful and alone as he and his fellow classmates only "had a few certain friends in the beginning of school," starting out in kindergarten.
"As the days grew smaller and our voices louder, we started forming tight bonds with each other knowing that we were not alone, relating to one another as if we hadn't just met, but rather lived under the same roof," Imbrogno said. "Even as we stepped on up to the high school level with no more line leaders, recess, Olympics, times tables, accelerated reader, cooties, and signing the book. It was time for lockers, MP, varsity sports, calculus, Hamlet, relationships and detentions."
Being in high school brought about change.
"The years started to speed up and things started changing," Imbrogno said. "The guys outgrew the girls, drama wasn't just the club responsible for the play each year, library was a class or at least it was supposed to be, shorts could be worn all year round, field trips were rare, GPA was more than just a random assortment of letters, driving to school was a responsibility, and the Ram Pound gave us school spirit."
For Imbrogno, the list goes on and on.
"I now realize in this supposed time of goodbyes that everyone is not just considered a friend but an individual that bonds to form a true family, and family lasts a lifetime," Imbrogno said. "Together we have grown from arguing over who gets the swings at recess by being there for each other when times were tough, fighting through the tedious homework assignments, accepting constant pressures from peers to succeed, even having endured a heart-breaking delay in our Florida trip by doing what we do best, improvising with a dance video 40,000 feet up on a private plane… no big deal… but most importantly, we have proved ourselves to the faculty, student body, and our town of Johnsonburg that we accomplished high school."
If given the "opportunity to rewind and replay the memories starting at the doors of elementary school," Imbrogno said he would, provided he could be with his classmates and family.
"Words cannot describe the way that we have come together and cherished the last moments of our high school careers, but I can say I am only grateful upon saying that I graduated from the Johnsonburg Area High School Class of 2012 with not just my friends, but my high school family," Imbrogno said. "I know that because of all in which we have endured as a class, graduation comes as a bittersweet stepping stone to the new lives we will lead.
"We have all been waiting for this moment, since we realized at seventh grade orientation that the seniors, in our eyes, were like celebrities."
Pick up a copy of the Monday, June 4, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.