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Top students to speak at Derry Area, Ligonier Valley, Greater Latrobe school commencements

| Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Krystalyn Martin
Krystalyn Martin
Melissa Richards
Melissa Richards
Jennifer Resslar
Jennifer Resslar
Leah Keener
Leah Keener
Joshua Gump
Joshua Gump
Courtney Kahl
Courtney Kahl
Rebecca Brubaker – Valedictorian
Rebecca Brubaker – Valedictorian
Jaden Johnston – Salutatorian
Jaden Johnston – Salutatorian

Another school year is coming to a end, and another group of seniors eagerly awaits the formal finale of their high school careers.

Derry Area High School will be the first area school to hand out diplomas, with 187 students scheduled to graduate tonight. Ligonier Valley will graduate 138 students on Friday night, and Greater Latrobe will hold its commencement on June 11.


When: 7 p.m. today

Where: High school stadium, 982 Chestnut St., Derry; in case of inclement weather, middle school auditorium, with admission by ticket only

Speakers: Superintendent David Welling, high school principal Kathy Perry, history teacher Jeffrey Kelly

Student speakers: Senior class president Courtney Kahl, valedictorian Kristalyn Martin, salutatorian Melissa Richards, Jennifer Resslar, Joshua Gump and Leah Keener

Top students:

• Kristalyn Martin, valedictorian

Academic honors include Distinguished Honor Roll, Honor Roll, Academic Excellence Society and World Language Honor Society.

Student council president and Students Against Destructive Decisions vice president, Martin earned a varsity letter in each of her four years on the cross-country team and served as captain for two years. She participated for three years on the track and field team, earning two varsity letters, spent one season on the swim team, earning a varsity letter, and four years as a cheerleader with one year as captain.

A member of Derry's Interact Club, Chorus and Mock Trial team, she volunteered with Santa's Workshop and the Interact Club Bachelor Auction.

She has worked for three years as a lifeguard and concession stand worker at Derry Community Pool.

Martin will attend the University of Rochester, majoring in neuroscience and epidemiology, and plans to attend medical school with the goal of pursuing a career as a neurosurgeon or medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Melissa Richards, salutatorian

Academic honors include Distinguished Honor Roll, Honor Roll, Academic Excellence Society, World Language Honor Society and perfect attendance.

Richards served as class treasurer and Spanish Honor Society president and was a member of the school's Choir Leadership Team.

She lent her musical talents to the concert band, choir, vocal ensemble, pit orchestra and marching band and served as drum major and participated in majorettes.

Active in her church's youth group, handbell choir and church musical, she earned her Gold Award in Girl Scouts and volunteered her time for Relay for Life, her church nursery, church musical and set construction, Peace by Piece Quilt Shop volunteer, church dinners, church mission trip and Faith In Action.

She has worked lawn care and baby-sitting jobs for three years.

Richards will attend Geneva College, majoring in math and science.

• Jennifer Resslar

Academic honors include Distinguished Honor Roll, Honor Roll, Academic Excellence Society and World Language Honor Society.

A past SADD president, World Language Honor Society vice president and Trojan Ponies preschool treasurer, Resslar also was a member of the school's marching band, majorettes and Interact Club.

She volunteers at her church, Redstone Highlands Nursing Home and a local food bank, and has worked as a baby sitter for seven years.

She plans to attend Robert Morris University and major in actuarial science.

• Leah Keener

Academic honors include Distinguished Honor Roll, Honor Roll, Academic Excellence Society, French Honors Society.

Keener served as president of French Honors Society and vice president of Early Childhood Club, and spent three years as a cheerleader, including one year as captain.

She has volunteered at Redstone Highlands, with Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation's “You've Got a Friend Day” and at the district's Santa's Workshop event.

She recently started a job as a cashier for Rite Aid.

Keener will attend St. Vincent College, majoring in accounting with the goal of becoming a certified public accountant.

• Joshua Gump

Academic honors include Distinguished Honor Roll, Honor Roll and National Technical Honor Society.

Gump was the top Derry Area senior at Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, where he was a student in the mechatronics program.

He played on a travel dek hockey team for five years, serving as alternate captain, and has volunteered at the Westmoreland County Food Bank warehouse and with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

He has worked for three years at Curry & Kepple LLC, which specializes in hauling and excavating.

Gump plans to attend Penn State-New Kensington, majoring in biomedical engineering technology.

• Courtney Kahl, senior class president

Academic honors include Distinguished Honor Roll, Honor Roll, Academic Excellence Society and National Honor Society.

Kahl has participated in cheerleading for 11 years, serving as captain, and played varsity soccer for two years.

A member of the Interact Club, she has volunteered at Redstone Highlands and with literacy projects at Grandview Elementary, and has worked at Lee's Ice Cream for four years.

She plans to attend St. Vincent College, majoring in business management and aiming to be a human resources professional.


When: 7:30 p.m. June 11

Where: Athletic field behind the senior high gymnasium, 131 High School Road, Latrobe. In case of inclement weather, 7:30 p.m. June 12

Speakers: Carlos Cardoso, chairman, president and CEO of Kennametal Inc.

Student speakers: Senior class president Jarrett Patterson, valedictorian Rebecca Brubaker, salutatorian Jaden Johnston

Top students:

• Rebecca Brubaker, valedictorian

Brubaker is vice president of the Prayer and Worship Club and a member of the National Honor Society and French Club. She volunteers with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and tutors in the junior high math lab and at Baggaley Elementary School.

In addition to being active in Victorious Life Church Youth Group, she volunteers as a Sunday school teacher and at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital and works as a cashier for Chick-fil-A.

Brubacker plans to attend Geneva College, majoring in biology and chemistry with the aim of later attending medical school.

• Jaden Johnston, salutatorian

Vice president of the National Honor Society and a member of the National Art Honor Society, Johnston serves as a tutor for English, French and math and participates in the Continental Mathematics League.

He has worked or volunteered at Red Dog Farm Animal Rescue Network, as a vacation Bible school teacher, a continental breakfast manager and Seton Hill workshop assistant.

He plans to attend the University of Arizona, majoring in physics and astronomy and minoring in French.


When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Weller Field, Fairield Street, Ligonier; in case of inclement weather, high school auditorium, with admission by ticket only

Speakers: Valediction and salutatorian, to be announced; Daniel Palmiscno, senior class president; and L. Jill Hans, deputy secretary for post-secondary and higher education for the Pennsylvania Department of Education

Ligonier Valley did not release information on its top students before press time.

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