Shannon Tokarsky

Graduate and National Honor Society member Shannon Tokarsky celebrates after receiving her diploma at Windber Area High School's Class of 2023 graduation ceremony at Windber Stadium in Windber on Monday, May 22, 2023.

The seniors who are graduating from our region’s high schools this year have faced tremendous challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and deserve congratulations for working hard to overcome them.

Windber Area School District officials held the region’s first graduation ceremony of the year on Monday night at Windber Stadium.

Michael Betcher, president of the district’s school board, said during the event that he knows the “future holds great things for this group.”

“It’s bittersweet,” senior Meleiah Dusack told our Josh Byers. “That’s definitely the best word to describe it.”

“It’s kind of weird to think my entire life has led up to this moment,” added classmate Brendan Curry, who’s planning to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania with hopes of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.

North Star and Bishop Carroll Catholic students graduated on Tuesday, followed by Ferndale Area students on Thursday. Seniors from Conemaugh Valley, Blacklick Valley and Berlin Brothersvalley graduate on Friday, as Byers reported.

Coming up, Northern Cambria seniors will get their diplomas on Tuesday, followed by students from Shanksville-Stonycreek, Shade, Somerset Area and Glendale on Wednesday; from Richland, Cambria Heights, Forest Hills, Conemaugh Township Area and Portage Area on Thursday; from Rockwood Area, Bishop McCort Catholic, Westmont Hilltop and Central Cambria on June 2; from Penn Cambria and Meyersdale Area on June 3; and from Salisbury-Elk Lick and Turkeyfoot Valley on June 4.

The graduation season will wrap up in this region with Greater Johnstown High School’s ceremony on June 5 at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial in downtown Johnstown.

As The Tribune-Democrat has repeatedly reported over the past couple years, surveys and studies have shown major impacts on students’ educational development and mental health caused by COVID-19 and run-on effects such as school shutdowns.

By battling through these obstacles and making it to graduation, this year’s seniors have shown that they have the toughness it takes to achieve their future goals, whatever those may be.

We second what Ferndale Area High School Principal Travis Robison told Byers: “I am most looking forward to seeing what this class of students will accomplish in their futures. ... I am proud of this year’s graduates, and I expect great things from these young adults.”

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