CANTON - Sixty-nine members of the Canton Area High School's senior class received their diplomas at the school's commencement ceremony on Friday.

Mariah Turner, who gave the third honor speech, talked about how Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates were all innovators who made a major impact, but who also made mistakes.

"Their time has passed, and now, fellow classmates of 2012, it is time for us to be innovative," Turner said at the ceremony, which was held in the high school's auditorium. "At this point, it is our time to go into the world and make our impact - to make our own paths and find our place in this world and to show everyone what we are really made of."

"We may not have all of the answers, but that is the beauty of it all," Turner said. "We do not have to have all of the answers. We have our whole lives ahead of us to make the decisions for what we want. My advice to my class is to not be afraid of making mistakes. Go out into the world and make as many mistakes as possible because that is the only way that we are going to learn from them. These mistakes will guide us into the right direction."

"I think it is safe to say that they were not all perfect," Turner said. "They made mistakes and sometimes failed, but they never gave up. They learned from their mistakes and created something extraordinary or life changing, and you can accomplish this too."

"I hope, fellow classmates, that if you only take one piece of advice from my speech, it is that you should never be afraid of living your lives," Turner said. "Yes, at times, there will be failures, but those failures can lead to the greatest successes of your lives."

Valedictorian Karlee Moyer spoke about integrity, telling her classmates it was the key to a successful future, Moyer said that television show host Oprah Winfrey had the best definition of integrity, which is "doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not."

Moyer said that the definition of integrity has changed over time.

"Through the years, the meaning of integrity has changed from faithfulness in new friendships to truthfulness in relationships and to one's self," Moyer said. "Integrity is the basis for intellectual honesty and the key to a successful future."

Moyer said that her classmates' first encounter with integrity might have been when they had read the following line from the popular Dr. Seuss book, "Horton Hears a Who!": "I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent." Moyer said the true meaning of the line, which they probably did not understand as young children, is that "everyone should be honest and reliable at all times with no exceptions. These are two of the imperative attributes that an individual who epitomizes integrity should possess."

Moyer also talked about being true to oneself.

"We all need to trust in ourselves and live life based on our morals and our beliefs," Moyer said. "Living in a society where conformity is the norm and individuality is frowned upon, many individuals suppress their real selves and mask it with an exterior that is contradictory to the person's interior. For this, class of 2012, I have looked to the assistance of Dr. Seuss when stating, 'Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!'"

"Passing this educational milestone and embarking on a new chapter in our lives where you are going off to college, serving in the military, or working, I would like you to keep in mind a bit of advice that Ayn Rand, an author, once said: 'Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values,' "Class of 2012, I would like you to make a promise to stay true to yourself throughout your future endeavors. Do not let anyone or any situation that you may endure change who you truly are," Moyer said.

Moyer also shared a quote by author Denis Waitley, who said: "A life lived with integrity - even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come."

Moyer said: "This is a day to be celebrated and to thank those who aided us to where we are today. Special thanks go out to our teachers who mentored us along this thirteen-year journey and to our friends and family who supported us every step of the way, especially in aiding us in developing integrity."

Senior class president Rodman Holmes' welcoming remarks were humourous, but he also ended his remarks on a more serious note with the following quote from former Notre Dame Head coach Lou Holtz, who had told his team, "Don't be a spectator, don't let life pass you by."

"I am sure ... the class of 2012, will not let life pass them by, Holmes said.

Salutatorian Emily Black encouraged her classmates to use their intelligence, which she said she knew they all have, to become successful.

"Intelligence goes beyond making the honor roll or being able to win a game of trivia," Black said. "It is more than just knowledge; it is the ability to grow and think."

"Albert Einstein, a well-known scientist, once said, 'The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.' Therefore, the true intelligence of my class will soon be tested, as we are all about to face major life changes," Black said. "Many of us will go on to college, where we will have more difficult classes in a different environment. Others will join the workforce or military, where they will have entirely new skills to master. Additionally, all of us will have more responsibilities. Through these changes, it will be important for all of us to use the intelligence that we gained during our years of elementary and high school, while also continuing to build upon it. Intelligence will aid us in furthering our education, making the right decisions, and accepting new people and ideas."

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: