Wheeling Central Salutes 59 Graduates

Photo by Lenny Wittenbrook Patrick J. Felton, a 1978 Wheeling Central graduate, assured the class of 2019 that success is best achieved by living life with the correct priorities, putting God first, family and friends second, and yourself third.

WHEELING — The 59 students graduating from Wheeling Catholic Central High School on Saturday were assured that “today is not about you, and it never was” as 2019 commencement speaker and 1978 Central graduate Patrick J. Felton encouraged them to properly prioritize their lives in order to achieve happiness and success as they go to find their place in the world.

Early in his talk, Felton jokingly questioned the choice made by school President Lawrence Bandi to have a certified public accountant deliver a commencement address. But he went on to share a philosophy he said he and his wife, Debbie, have followed through their lives together, a philosophy he first found while attending grade school at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Elm Grove. It came from the book “I am Third” by running back Gale Sayers with Al Silverman: “God is first, my family and friends are second, and I am third.”

Felton, who today helms the Wheeling firm Felton CPA alongside his brother, Jack, went on to explain that he believed that success is not found in the money you make or the things you have, the titles you achieve or the letters after your name.

“If you keep your priorities straight, then you can not only be successful, but you can be happy,” Felton said.

Some of Felton’s priorities include redeveloping downtown Wheeling, participating in several local service organizations and remaining active within the Catholic church.

Felton concluded by re-emphasizing his opening theme as a key to happiness.

“Today is not about you, and it never was,” he repeated, concluding, “Today is really about your parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, clergy, priests and coaches. All these people regularly, throughout their lives, made sacrifices and always put you first ahead of themselves. But for their efforts and love, you are here today, a very special day.”

During her address to the graduates, Valedictorian Emma Magruder encouraged her fellow graduates to cherish the “Golden Moments” and challenged her classmates “to accept the spontaneous and unexpected present, live in the moment, and make golden memories among everyday things.”

In her address, Salutatorian Kennadee Wayt asked her fellow graduates “not to be saddened by what we are leaving , but to find a balance between the memories that we share and the individual identities that we will be able to create for ourselves.”

An impressive list of achievements, scholarships, awards and scholastic honors garnered by the Maroon Knights Class of 2019 was relayed to the large crowd attending the ceremony in the Central Catholic Athletic Center before Madelyn Tiu was announced as the recipient of the Mater Dei Award for outstanding Christian spirituality, leadership, wholesomeness and service.

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