By Tim Yovich
The superintendent says mistakes can be learning experiences.
WARREN — The qualities learned during the first 12 years of school will go a long way in succeeding in life.
That was the message Wednesday by Warner Bacak, president of the Howland Board of Education, as diplomas were presented at W.D. Packard Music Hall during the commencement for Howland High School’s Class of 2008.
Bacak told the 240 graduates and their parents, family and friends that competition is fierce, just as it was 38 years ago when he graduated. To succeed, they must use the qualities taught to them by their parents, teachers and church leaders.
Among those qualities are respect of others, reliability, truthfulness, being a good listener, getting along with others and keeping an open mind. The most significant trait is not to compromise, the board president told the school district’s 88th graduating class.
Bacak told them that they have enthusiasm, skills and desire to achieve.
“Now it is your time to draw your own map,” Superintendent John Sheets told the class.
He recommended they view road blocks as challenges. Sheets said they may take the wrong path during life, but those are mistakes that can become “great learning experiences.”
The class was represented by Jamie Neroni and Brett Fodor.
Neroni said the class has been together for 720 school days. She urged her classmates to keep the good and bad memories with them.
“We are at the end of the beginning,” Fodor said. “Be true to yourselves.” He added that he and his classmates are now responsible for their own decisions.
“Don’t waste what you have been given,” Fodor said.
Before commencement, students talked about their futures, as did their parents.
Alyssa Ruberto, 18, is off to Youngstown State University to study middle school education to prepare her for a teaching career.
“I loved it,” Ruberto said of her high school experience, especially English teacher Amanda Dewberry, who she described as being the most entertaining of her teachers.
At 17, Demetri Nerris will be going to Kent State University to study broadcasting and communications to eventually have a career in music reporting. He knows he must leave the Mahoning Valley to succeed in his profession. Besides, he said he doesn’t like the weather here.
“I’m going to be shooting for the top — making the best of my talents,” Nerris said. “When you do good things, good things happen to you.”
Melissa Lubert, 18, graduated with many honors as a member of National Honor Society. She had a 3.75 grade point average and passed 10 of 14 honors classes.
It wasn’t easy for Lubert, however.
“I put a lot of study [time] in. It’s not natural for me,” Lubert said of learning.
Lubert will be studying business at Ohio State University.
For Rodney Murray, 18, a B and C student, studying didn’t come easy.
“I tried to stay focused,” said Murray, who will be studying business management at KSU, where his brother graduated. He wants to open a car dealership.
Nancy Fabian, whose 18-year-old daughter, Kayla, graduated Wednesday, said she was happy with Howland most of the time.
The school offered a lot, and her daughter graduated eighth in her class. “The opportunities are there if the kids take advantage,” Fabian said. Her daughter will be studying business at KSU’s Trumbull campus.
Bob James’ 18-year-old daughter, Lindsay, is going to study biology at Westminister College in New Wilmington, Pa., She is looking at a career in medicine.
It hasn’t been easy for his daughter, he said.
“She had to work at it. She has excellent study habits,” James said, noting his daughter had “an excellent high school experience.”