Steel Valley honors Class of 2024 during 53rd annual commencement ceremony

The Class of 2024 tosses their caps into the air

Not even Mother Nature could deter the Class of 2024 from graduation.

The wind blew, storm clouds threatened, and rain occasionally fell, but as Steel Valley High School's 53rd annual commencement ceremony progressed at William V. Campbell Field in Munhall, the sun emerged. Though its appearance was brief, it helped keep the rain away and served as a beacon to usher the Class of 2024 into their future.

Like a few of their recent predecessors, the seniors who rose to speak at the podium during the commencement ceremony made note of the challenges their class faced over the past few years. Backed by the unrelenting support of the Steel Valley community, inspired by the passion from their tireless teachers and administrators, uplifted by the unconditional love of their families, and cheered on by their classmates, the Class of 2024 found a way to persevere and declare themselves Steel Valley High School graduates.

Following the pledge of allegiance, led by student government president Ava M. Caiarelli, director of commencement Mr. Jeffrey W. Deabner, Jr. introduced this year's student speakers. Salutatorian Joe T. Nguyen congratulated his classmates on their achievements and said that though their class may be small, he wouldn't want to be with anyone else. He closed with a quote from actor Edward Albert, who said that the simple act of caring was heroic.

"If what he says is true," Nguyen said, "then this community is full of some of the greatest heroes I've ever met."

Class of 2024 valedictorian Michayla C. Rager spoke about the memories that will undoubtedly stay with each and every student.

"As we stand at the threshold of this new chapter, let us not only hold onto the memories that have shaped us," she said, "but also embrace all of the opportunities that lie ahead."

Charles Wallace was named this year's Outstanding Career and Technical Education Student. He spoke about the impact of learning a trade, and thanked his parents and classmates for their support.

Superintendent Bryan M. Macuga congratulated the Class of 2024, noting their collective resilience and dedication. He offered words of encouragement, as well, challenging them to embrace change and pursue their passions with enthusiasm.

"As you enter forth into the world, remember the values that have guided you thus far: Integrity, compassion, and commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others," Mr. Macuga said. "Carry these values with you wherever you go, and let them serve as your compass as you navigate the complexities of the world around you."

School board president Mr. James E. Bulger introduced this year's guest speaker. Dr. Taylor Clementoni, the daughter of retiring teacher Mr. Ed Wellman, is a 2011 Steel Valley graduate who now serves as the Director of Program Development at UPMC's Western Psychiatric Hospital. Dr. Clementoni spoke about the challenge of imposter syndrome, a common mental block people experience when they mistakenly believe they aren't qualified for a role or don't deserve certain responsibilities. To overcome that hurdle, Dr. Clementoni offered a few pieces of advice - believe in and advocate for yourself, it's OK to ask for help, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

"You are the next generation of doctors, engineers, cosmetologists and mechanics, professional athletes, and hopefully a few occupational therapists. Go for that job, the promotion, the professional training program," she said. "Remember: You are a Steel Valley Ironman, and you have the knowledge and skills to achieve anything."

Student representative to the school board Dalton R. Kraft presented Dr. Clementoni with the customary plaque that will be placed alongside those of other commencement honorees in the Steel Valley High School trophy case.

Senior class president Duane C. Carter, Jr. closed the ceremony by reminiscing a few memorable moments alongside his classmates. His remarks included a poem he wrote earlier in high school.

"No matter where we end up, we started the same; and our legacy will live on with our name," he recited. "Our dreams and goals will lead the way, and it all starts here on graduation day."

The Steel Valley School District extends a warm congratulations to the entire Class of 2024!

A full gallery of photos from commencement is available here.

Caps are tossed into the air at graduation