B-A bids farewell to Class of 2022


Kerry Naylor

Valedictorian Sarah Berkowitz addresses the Class of 2022.

Eighty-two seniors received their diplomas on Thursday as Bellwood-Antis High School said farewell to the Class of 2022.

It was the eighty-fourth commencement ceremony at B-A, and it was held in the auditorium after potential rainfall forced the ceremony indoors.

The Class of 2022 heard from a number of speakers, with 1992 alum David Lewis headlining the program as the guest speaker.

Class president Cooper Keen began the evening by talking about the difference between failing and quitting. He said that while many members of the class may have failed at something, none of them ever quit, as evidenced by their ability to make it on stage for their high school graduation.

Salutatorian Caedon Poe followed with a joke-filled address in which he encouraged the Class of 2022 to do something with their life without being afraid to fail. He also praised high school principal Mr. Richard Schreier for the patience and kindness he showed to his class.

Tyler Mercer then introduced Lewis, who talked about the way he was able to build a successful career in finance after his first career choice did not work out. Lewis graduated from Penn State with a degree in engineering and he said when he went on his lone job interview at a coal operation in Kentucky he knew it was not the right career choice for him. He returned to State College and worked odd jobs to make ends meet until one day a serendipitous call from his roommate’s friend in California led him to a job interview with Morgan Stanley.

Faced with the choice of leaving everything he knew and the place where he grew upĀ  to interview for a job for which he was never formally trained, or staying in a situation in State College where he said he was “floundering,” Lewis chose to head out west, and the decision changed his life.

Lewis took the job at Morgan Stanley, and by 2007 he was ready to open his own investment firm, Lewis Asset Management, just outside of San Francisco.

“Life is not a straight line where you check boxes as you go,” Lewis said. “It’s a winding path of twists and turns.”

After Lewis spoke, Valedictorian Sarah Berkowitz spoke to her class and offered three lessons she learned at Bellwood-Antis: use your voice, find your people, and lasts are the start of firsts.

“Tonight we celebrate a commencement ceremony, not a conclusion ceremony,” Berkowitz said.

Mr. Schreier spoke next, recognizing the accomplishments of individuals and groups who demonstrated achievement during the 2021-2022 school year. He noted that of all the classes to have been affected by the COVID pandemic, the Class of 2022 may have experienced the most because in their four years in the high school they experienced four very different types of learning environments.

He then turned the dais over to school board president Mr. Tom Finn, who read the class a poem called “Don’t Quit,” which former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roehtlisberger kept in his locker after hearing the poem recited by his college coach at Miami of Ohio.

Next, Superintendent Dr. Tom McInroy addressed the class, offering them life advice, though he said judging by their achievements they may not necessarily need it.

Finally, the class was presented with diplomas, and afterwards Keen led the group in the turning of the tassles.

The Class of 2022 exited Bellwood-Antis as students for the last time to the playing of their class song, “Life Is a Highway.”