CANTON - Change.

It can be a scary concept, but at Canton High School's commencement ceremonies Friday, valedictorian Taylor Fowler embraced it.

He was one of the speakers at the 140th annual commencement, held at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. According to high school principal Craig Coleman, 89 were in the graduating class, with 87 on stage for commencement.

Speaking on "The Importance of Change," Fowler said, "change allows us to grow as people and to become functional members of society," and "this directly shows the importance of change."

"The importance of change influences us on a personal and technological level," Fowler said. "In its most basic form, change impacts us personally as we experience growth, maturity, and opportunities."

He noted one particular change that was on everyone's mind Friday night: the graduates picking up their diplomas to finish their high school careers.

"In our circumstance, change is forcing us out into the real world to become functional members of society," he said.

He noted the different forms of change can take.

Fowler said "change can be as small as changing one's Pandora station or as large as changing one's career."

"One truly never knows what change will bring," he said. He said the opportunities that change people's lives are unforeseeable, but they allow them to grow.

For example, he said, graduation will lead each of the graduates somewhere into adulthood.

"This change will allow us to grow in a career, with a family, and in whatever life has in store for us as we become functional members of society."

"Most of us up here know what our immediate changes will be," he continued.

For the graduates, he said, most of it is career-related, such as where they will be working, what college they will be enrolling, or what branch of the military they will be attending.

Further down the road

However, he said, fewer know where this will be taking them further down the road.

For example, he noted, one may be planning on going to college for a certain major, but he asked if this is an indicator of where this person will end up in the future.

"Will he or she be working at a local business or moving out of state to find employment?" he asked.

He said someone may find that his or her major is not a perfect fit and change to another major. At this point in time, he said, one can never tell.

In addition to change occurring on a personal level, he said, "it is also on a technological level."

"The world changes daily with better technology to feed our generation's social media fixation or other high-priority issues," he said. "Looking back upon my childhood, I didn't even know what a 'cell phone' was."

He said he was willing to bet that a fair majority of those in the audience, especially those who were graduating, had one of those cellular devices on them at that moment.

He said changes like this will be occurring all the time, and we have to be ready for them.

"We have the knowledge and skills to understand these advancements and to make the necessary adjustments to deal with them. This shows that the world is rapidly evolving and so are we."

He continued, "With this being said, change is very important to an individual. Change allows us to be the best that we can be. Change will morph every one of us on stage to achieve adulthood."

This change, he said, is what will allow them to become leaders, farmers, soldiers, parents, or whatever they plan to do with the rest of their lives.

"This change is vital for our maturity and for our future selves," he said.

He said "change allows us to grow as people and become functional members of society."

He said the graduates can only see the beginning of the road ahead of them right now, and further down the road, there may be bumps, turns, side streets, and roundabouts.

"I am not sure about all of the graduates tonight, but I am excited for the change that will be occurring to all of us, considering this change will make us who we are going to be for the rest of our lives."


Salutatorian Alyssa Black spoke on "The Benefits of Change: New Beginnings and More Opportunities." She told the Class of 2014 not to be afraid of change.

She said that in order to make it through life, one must be willing to change.

"Graduation is one of the most significant changes in our lives thus far, and with this transition comes the benefits of new beginnings and more opportunities," she said.

"As with many changes in our lives, graduation brings new beginnings. Whether one is

starting a job, attending college, or joining the military, one can take what one has learned through classes, friendships, sports, and activities during one's high school years and apply it in this new chapter of life," she continued. "Through each of these, one has learned information needed to prosper in life, such as communication skills, teamwork, and perseverance through difficulties. These experiences and skills have made us who we are today."

However, she said, changes and new beginnings "are not an easy part of life; therefore, one should be flexible and adjust to them in one's own way. As we move forward with this flexible attitude, we will continue to see ourselves grow as more changes bring more new beginnings to the coming phases in our lives."

With the new beginning that comes after graduation, she said, the graduates also will see many more opportunities come their way.


"Some of these opportunities include obtaining a job promotion, pursuing a higher degree, such as a Master's or PhD, or even earning a higher rank in the military," she said. "One must be willing to search for opportunities by venturing off the path that one is traveling on. This may potentially have its risks, but one must be willing to take each risk and embrace each change in order to achieve one's goals. Also, when one is offered an opportunity, one should be sure to make a wise decision so that it will result in positive outcomes."

"In conclusion, graduation is one of the most significant changes in our lives thus far, and

will create new beginnings and more opportunities. Life will always be changing, so one must be flexible and ready to embrace each change that comes one's way in order to survive in society. Do not be afraid of change, but instead be on the search for it because the benefits that come with change will lead you to a more promising future."

Third Honor Student

Third Honor Student Jarin Segur, meanwhile, spoke about how "our lives are ever-changing," and asked the members of the Class of 2014 to think about where they were five years ago.

"Think about where you lived, where you worked or went to school, who your friends were, and what you were like as a person," he said. "Now, think about all of these questions and your answers in the present time. For some people, the answers may be the same, but for most, a lot of the answers are contrasting between past and present. Just like from the past to present, there are many aspects about us that will change from now until the day that we die. These changes are going to vary from positive to negative, temporary to permanent, and benign to severe. However, whatever the circumstances, whether it be cultural or personal, change is inevitable in each of our lives, and it is our goal to adapt to each one of these changes."

True self

He told the members of the graduating class that change "will show your true self and what you are like as a person. We all need to expect change, learn to cope with the negative changes, and learn to open the door to the positive changes that will inevitably arise throughout our lives."

"To close, I would like you to do this: think about where you live, where you work or go to school, who your friends are, and what you are like as a person. Now, think about what you want your answers to be if I asked you five years from now. If we want these changes to happen, we must work to achieve them, not expect all of them to just fall into place. Work for your goals, accept the changes that happen, adapt to those changes, and always know the importance and benefits of both negative and positive changes."

Class President

Class President Hope Artley spoke about "Changes through the Years."

"Not only have we made gradual changes as students through 13 years of stages, but we have changed as people," she said. "Canton Area School District is where we have grown from timid kindergartners to lively, ambitious seniors….now graduates."

She reflected on all the grades they went through, and then spoke about entering high school.

"Finally, after all the years of waiting, we were high schoolers - no more assigned seats at lunch and no more just watching varsity sports," she said. "Many big stages passed us by while we were in high school. We began driving, working, and planning for our futures. Beyond the walls of Canton High, we made many memories."

She noted how the Class of 2014 was the first class to ever have Friday night football games at Canton High School.

"Not only did the football players experience new lights, but the coaches were a big change too," she said. "The football players were not the only ones who had to adjust to the lights; it was new for the cheerleaders as well. The football players fought through the entire season. After a few years of there being no band, Canton High's band revived, and we were lucky enough to hear their music at home games."

She also noted, "along with all of the other many changes that we experienced as a senior class, we hosted the first off-grounds prom in 12 years."

"To conclude, I would like to say on behalf of the graduating Class of 2014, thank you. Thank you to the teachers who taught us and pushed us through the years. Thank you to all the parents who supported us and promised this day would be worth it."

Becoming emotional, she wished the graduates good luck.

Congratulations to the Class of 2014, and welcome to the new stage of your life."

"Follow your dreams, they are yours, and no one can ever take them from you."

District superintendent Matt Gordon also spoke on the theme of change. He told the graduates that people come and go, but their family will always be there for them. He congratulated the Class and wished them the best of luck.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email:

CANTON - With all the talk about change at the Canton High School commencement ceremonies Friday, the introduction of the new Warrior wooden carving seemed especially appropriate.

About an hour before commencement, high school principal Craig Coleman spoke about the new carving, named Chief Minnequa, which sits in front of the high school auditorium.

But first he provided some history on the old Warrior.

A copy of his remarks are as follows:

"Our fallen warrior who was here from the mid 1980s until May 28, 2014 stood watch over our campus for nearly 30 years. His name was 'Chief Notnac.' Weather got the best of him after he was moved from an inside showcase and the need for a new warrior arose."

"The skillful hands of John Kern created our new warrior. Because of John's efforts and contributions from Canton's beautification fund and a generous donation of $1,000 from Dave and Joy Ward … a new warrior is now in place to watch over our campus."

"This warrior, like our past warrior Chief Notnac, is the symbol of pride for all of our Canton students and community. Every year our graduating seniors will have this new warrior to reflect on their pride in their school and community along with their achievement of graduating from Canton by tossing their caps around him. Our new Warrior's name is Chief Minnequa. His name was voted on by the student body. The result is again a reflection of our students understanding of the history of the Canton area."

"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you - Chief Minnequa."

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: