|A lone bagpiper|
Before the actual ceremony, a 60-piece orchestra, dressed in tuxedos and black gowns, serenaded anxious parents and siblings for nearly an hour. Led by Kevin Long, many of the same kinds of instruments which once entertained Colonial soldiers, now drew applause from their 21st Century successors. Suddenly, this orchestra was silenced by the fanfare of a squad of trumpeters, who appeared in a balcony above the main floor. They musically announced, not just the processional of dignitaries like Superintendent Joseph Roy and School Board President Michael Faccinetto, but The Liberty Scholar.
Then came the sound that strikes fear into other schools from all over the Lehigh Valley during football games. The bagpipe. Accompanied by 7 pipe drummers, 21 bagpipers marched and played their way throughout the arena, clearing a wide path for the graduates to follow.
Of course, the Star Spangled Banner was sung, and many in this festive crowd joined in. But then Principal Harrison Bailey III asked for a moment of silence in honor of Liberty alumni who passed away, as well as a student who unfortunately succumbed last month.
After that moment, a lone bagpiper, graduating senior Caleb Geinosky, began to play "Amazing Grace" from the balcony above. After a verse, the remaining bagpipers joined him.
That's not all. A choir performed, and the orchestra played The Armed Forces Medley after senior Emily Cecchini was honored with a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.
The enthusiasm was infectious. Superintendent Roy said his aunt nearly got arrested earlier this year for breaking through a police barrier in the Tournament of Roses Parade so she could take a "selfie" with the Grenadiers. Even his two year old daughter likes to shout, "Go Liberty." Roy thanked parents "for the honor of educating your children."
A touching moment came when Principal Bailey decided to honor a student for his spirit and enthusiasm, and chose Drew Donaher, son of Director of Student Services Dean Donaher. After his son awkwardly made his way to the stage, a visibly shaken Dean Donaher embraced his son.
Twenty-eight Liberty graduates were honored with the "Lamp of Knowledge" for maintaining straight "A" averages during their four years in high school. Eighty-eight students were honored for attaining an "A" average in their senior year. Students were also honored for a combined 68,000 hours of community service, well above what is required.
Student speaker Spencer Harlan called on fellow graduates to "always be childish" in the sense of keeping it simple and being genuine.
School Board President Faccinetto called on students to "find your passion. Find what inspires you." An example of this was provided by Superintended Roy, referring to his two older daughters. One of them is a writer while the other is a social worker for the homeless. "They found their passion," he said.
Originally known as Bethlehem High School, Liberty was built in 1922. Its graduates include Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik, District Attorney John Morganelli, and Bethlehem Mayors John Callahan and Bob Donchez.
The Christmas City Star must have twinkled a few extra times during this wonderful ceremony that represented everything that is right about Bethlehem and Liberty High School.