Dunmore High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian: Bell Pendon

DHS Valedictorian - Bell PendonBy Steve Svetovich

The reality is still setting in for Dunmore graduating senior Bell Pendon. 

Daughter of Janet and Reynold Pendon, Dunmore, Bell said she feels “humbled” after learning late last month she is the Dunmore High School valedictorian.

“At first when I was told,” she said, “it didn’t feel like it was real. It took me a while to take it all in. Now I am getting used to it.

“I feel very humbled and grateful.”

Bell, 18, will be attending Bucknell University next year on a Dean’s Scholarship. She will study psychology.

Bell, who has an infectious giggle, said she wants to become a psychiatrist eventually. She will combine the sciences with psychology. The Dunmore scholar said her best subject is English, but she likes science the best.

“I am going to study psychology,” she said, “because I always wanted to help people. I have seen first hand how mental health issues affect people’s lives and I want to be in a profession to help.”

Bell loves to be active and play a big part in school activities which is evident by her membership in numerous clubs. She is a member of the Student Council, Yearbook staff, Drama Club, Newspaper Club, Earth Club and is a football cheerleader. 

Bell enjoys acting and was in various plays at Dunmore High School. “That was a lot of fun,” she said. “It is nice to be involved in a lot of clubs at school. I thought drama was great.” 

She talked about her experience at Dunmore. “It was such a welcoming experience. The teachers and my fellow students supported me so much. They made me who I am today. I am very grateful.”

Bell said she enjoys baking and her favorite musical artist is Taylor Swift.

She has two sisters, Cessna, 21, and Marchete, 19, both Dunmore graduates. Cessna attends the University of Pittsburgh and Marchete goes to the University of Chicago. Higher learning obviously runs in the family. Her sisters have been very positive influences on Bell.

Born in the Phillipines, Bell came to Dunmore with her family when she was in the fourth grade. She talked about the differences in two countries. “Well, it is warmer in the Philippines,” she said, “but here there are many more opportunities. There were certainly a lot of clubs to join in at school. I made many friends.”

Humble in nature, Bell said she learned “perseverance and kindness” from her parents. She said her Dunmore teachers always taught her “to be curious.”

Bell said she spent the past several months studying at home, spending a lot of time with her family and practicing “social distancing” during the on going COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bell said she is excited about attending college at Bucknell. “I am very excited about meeting new people and taking on higher education learning. It will be a different kind of learning with college professors. My experience at Dunmore will help me. 

“My goal is simply to lead a happy life.” 

Holy Cross High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian: Tori Kovalchick

HC Valedictorian - Tori KovalchickBy Steve Svetovich

Tori Kovalchick learned a lot time ago that hard work pays off.

The Holy Cross graduating senior is her school’s valedictorian as she sets her sights on attending Penn State University in the fall.

Graduating with a 4.27 grade point average, Tori will attend the Schreyer Honors College while studying chemical engineering at Penn State’s main campus in State College.

Daughter of Fred and Greta Kovalchick, the well-spoken and articulate senior said she learned the value of hard work from her parents.

“My parents always taught me about the value of hard work,” she said. “If you put your best effort forward, you will get great results.”

Tori said her best and favorite subject is science. She was the recipient of the Bausch Lamb Honorary Science Award from the University of Rochester.

Tori received medals for the past three years for the National Latin exam. 

Polite and intellectual, Tori is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, the Pro Life Club and is class secretary.

She talked about her decision to study chemical engineering. “Well, I wanted to combine math and science while working in a profession to help serve others.

“I hope to perform research for a pharmaceutical engineering firm to help improve modern medicine.”

Tori said she has been keeping busy with school work and family during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have been very busy doing my school work and applying for college scholarships. I have also been enjoying time with my family before I go off to college. I am spending as much time as I can with them. I am also taking time to enjoy the outdoors.”

A National Merit Commended Scholar, Tori said she has many hobbies, including playing piano and saxophone, cooking and baking, and watching musical theatre. 

She is very much looking forward to the college experience at Penn State. “I am very excited to be able to experience Penn State,” she said. “There is a lot of school spirit there and they take pride in their school. And with my studies there, I get to explore what I am most passionate about.”

Tori said she enjoys music and would like to see Elton John in concert.

She has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at Holy Cross.

“It has been the best experience,” she said. “I transferred there as a freshman. I was very much supported by the teachers, administrators and students. It was very easy to make friends. Everyone was so kind, welcoming and supportive.”


Lackawanna College Honors Class of 2020

lackawanna collegeLackawanna College has awarded more than 430 bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificates to the class of 2020, which includes students from 15 states and countries including France, Dominica and Saint Lucia. The College’s 126th commencement is currently scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, after its traditional May ceremony was postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Students in the class of 2020 were among the first to receive the College’s associate degrees in Baking & Pastry and Occupational Therapy Assistant as well as bachelor’s degrees in Accounting, Restaurant & Foodservice Management and RN-to-BSN. 

Graduates also included seven regional high school students who completed their associate degrees while still enrolled in high school through the College’s Level Up program.

Dunmore graduates included: Pauline Ann Macarski, cum laude, and Elisabeth Jamison Padula, bachelor of science, human services; Gloria Marie Stryweski, cum laude, associate in science, baking & pastry; Seamus Michael Gerrity, associate of science,business studies; Alyssa Marie Fazio, associate of science, early childhood education; Kylia Denice Conaway, associate of science, human services; Jennifer Alexandra Gerrity, magna cum laude, associate of science, occupational therapy assistant; Corbin James Smith, associate of science, sports management, and Amanda Nowakowski, certificate program, conservation & natural resource.