Grads urged to develop uniqueness

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Marissa Lanzel, one of the 282 seniors at Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School who graduated Friday night, packs a lot more into the 24 hours in a day than most people, despite some very real personal challenges.

Lanzel, who was diagnosed at age 13 with Type 1 diabetes, used to have to give herself daily insulin shots but is now much happier that she can forego the shots and can wear an insulin pump.

Still, the disease does take its toll on her, and she has to be careful, especially when she’s participating in what she likes to do best, which is play tennis. Her blood sugar can go to low levels when she’s playing, so she has to monitor herself and stay on top of it, she said.

But like everything else, she handles it and moves on.

“You get used to it,” she said.

Before graduation, Lanzel, whose parents are Mary Jo and David Lanzel of Hollidaysburg, was very active in several school activities including Student Council, National Honor Society and Tigers Against Drugs and Alcohol. She also worked for Sheetz Inc. after school but gave that up because it conflicted with the tennis clinics she attends and also helps to teach.

Her love of tennis started to grow after she saw how much her mother liked to play, Lanzel said. She started playing when she was in fifth grade. Because of her illness, she said she gets tired a lot, but she’s always practicing, even in the off-season.

Lanzel won a District 6 singles title in her senior year, and she said she would like to play tennis when she attends Duquesne University next fall to study pharmacy. However, she plans to play “club tennis,” which she said isn’t as competitive as what she played in high school.

High School Guidance Counselor Erin Stroz called Lanzel “easygoing.”

“She’s got the personality to fit into a lot of different areas,” she said. “And she is very friendly and welcoming to lots of other students.”

As Lanzel and others listened to class Valedictorian Caitlyn Edgell speak Friday night at Tiger Stadium, they may have been surprised to hear Edgell talk about failure in her commencement address instead of success.

But Edgell said ultimate success, or rather perfection, is unattainable, and is too highly prized by today’s society. She said the perfect grades, the perfect car, the ultimate photo is what everyone wants, but photos of models in magazines are often enhanced by computers.

“It is crucial that we realize that perfection is not attainable,” she said.

She said many people try to project the perfect image of themselves by only posting the best photos of themselves on the popular social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

“Even we fall prey to striving to create the perfect image,” she said.

Rather than pursuing perfection, Edgell suggested the graduates should look inward to find what makes them unique and develop the characteristics that set them apart from others.

“All life wants from us is authenticity and growth,” she said.