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Nikki's Graduation Speech

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

2022 KAHS graduate Nicole Angelisanti delivered the salutatorian speech at commencement. Read her inspiring words below or watch the speech here.

"Thank you for the warm welcome, Mr. Flicker. Good evening, faculty, staff, alumni, families, members of the Kutztown community, and my fellow graduates of the Class of 2022.

Tonight I would like to begin with a tribute to our town. Can I see a show of hands who has Pennsylvania Dutch heritage? Or if you own a Hex sign or if you’ve ever been to the Folk Fest? Though I am not of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage I recognize that these staples of our town represent the values of family, hard work, and sacrifice. We sure do live in a great community, one that I and my fellow graduates have called home for the past 18 years.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be recognized as the Class of 2022 salutatorian tonight. Thank you all for being to celebrate with us.

I would first like to thank my family. Thank you to my mom for being the strong independent woman who has shaped me into who I am today. I would like to thank my grandmother for modeling the value of female empowerment as the queen of American businesswomen. I would like to thank my dad for being a constant support system in my life that brings our family together. And to my brother and sister, thank you for always making life a fun time.

I would now like to sincerely thank all of our Kutztown teachers, staff, and administration for sharing your time, knowledge, and talents with us. We are eternally grateful for your generosity as mentors that have guided us to reach this milestone in our lives. Mrs. Cicale-Smith, thank you for being my friend and for devoting your time to the well-being of your students. Ms. Saby, thank you for teaching us the true meaning of education– for the compassion of your students. Mrs. Groller and Mrs. Sprinkle, thank you for spreading the beautiful Spanish language to Kutztown. And Mr. Bricker, thank you for helping me choose my course of study in college. I would also like to thank Mr. Brown for helping me through my education when I was hospitalized in middle school.

My fellow classmates, it has been an honor to share Kutztown Area High School with you. Both accomplishments and challenges have accompanied us to this stage tonight, whether they have been visible or hidden. Over the past four years, some have overcome abuse and are survivors, some have lost family members or friends, and some have conquered drug and alcohol addiction. We all have our own story and I am here to say that I am proud of you.

In the next few months, whether you plan to tend a farm, attend college or technical school, celebrate parenthood, enlist in the military, or join the workforce, we are all beginning our own journeys. Now we have to ask the question: What are we going to do next? Who are we going to be?

We represent the world’s people of the future. This evening, we are not only leaving with a diploma– we move forward with the opportunity to bring global change and peace, in an ever-changing, diversified world. Kutztown Area High School Class of 2022– I now ask you to take your future into your own hands with this charge in mind.

Currently, there are many people facing challenges in our country: women, the LGBTQ community, Black Americans, and students and teachers in Uvalde, Texas. No matter the issue, we need to facilitate discussion, without personal offense, and work towards progress and unification. Towards equity. Towards peace.

During my time in Kutztown, my global perspective has been enhanced as an ESL tutor and a server at La Cocina Mexicana Mexican restaurant. I have been made painfully aware of the harsh reality of the limitations on freedom that is experienced by non-native English speakers and immigrants from other countries. Though I am not of Hispanic heritage, I am very thankful to note these experiences in our community that have caused me to identify my own privilege and continue to motivate me to live life with an open mind.

I would again like to again pay a tribute to our town. A todos los hispanohablantes, quisiera agradecerles por enseñarme su lengua, su cultura, y su vida. To the Spanish-speaking community, I would like to thank you for enriching me with your language, your culture, and your life. Uds. son un bendición para mi. You have been a blessing to me.

Inequities, in our own community, our commonwealth, and our nation, are limiting the achievement of the American Dream for many. To all, I ask you to help our nation grow. The fact that we have so many challenges in our country means that we have just as many opportunities to make contributions. Find something that you think needs to be changed. Where will you tap in? Where will you use your talents, your interests, and your skills?

Are you going to be the Spanish teacher who takes her students to Costa Rica to travel the world? Are you going to be the guidance counselor who uplifts students who are struggling with anxiety? Or are you going to be the English teacher whose never-ending kindness and empathy inspire us in our education?

We have finished this chapter of our lives and I now encourage you to take the opportunity to flourish in this world. If you are of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, if you are of Hispanic heritage, European heritage, Asian heritage, indigenous, male, female, non-binary, black, white, queer, or straight, we are in this together. Challenge yourself to make change. Challenge yourself to make a difference. Challenge yourself to continue your quest for knowledge to find your unique gift to offer to our society.

In a community looking to embrace diversity, I truly believe that every 126 of us in this graduating class has the ability to make a difference in the new world we are entering tonight.

As you move forward, enjoy life every step of the way– each chapter filled with joy and gratitude. And continue to thank your friends and family who help you reach your goals. Be sure to cherish every day of your life to the fullest.

Congratulations fellow graduates. United tonight as the graduating Class of 2022, I urge you to continue this energy as we work together to unite the world as one. Thank you."

--Nicole Angelisanti, KASD Class of 2022

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