James E. Nevels, founder and chairman of the Swarthmore Group, of Philadelphia, one of the largest investment advisory firms in Pennsylvania, told the graduating seniors at the 124th Commencement at Williamson College of the Trades, to make service a part of their lives.

“As a graduate of Williamson College of the Trades, your problem solving talents are great, and so is the need out there,” Nevels said. “So put those talents to work for others. In your career. And in your communities. You will be better for it by every measure.

“We all know service is the right thing to do. I’m here to share a secret — service is the very best way to succeed in your business careers. It has made mine. Serving others is the very best way to ascend in business life.”

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Nevels said his company has succeeded not just because of their investment prowess, but because they serve their clients. “We seek to serve them. Relentlessly. Unexpectedly. Enthusiastically. They know that. And they never forget it.”

Nevels, who grew up poor in Alabama and became the founder and chairman of a large investment firm, said “It doesn’t matter where you came from. It’s where you will end up. And in the process of going there, you must serve.”

Several years ago, Nevels served Williamson by facilitating a meeting that led to Williamson receiving the largest gift in its history — $40 million from Henry and Lee Rowan and H. FitzGerald “Gerry” and Marguerite Lenfest.

At the end of Nevels’ keynote address, President Michael Rounds, presented him with the first ever honorary associate in specialized technology degree from Williamson and the traditional Commencement Speaker Award, a metal cube that was manufactured by Williamson’s machine tool technology students.

In his opening remarks, Rounds said to the Class of 2017, “You made it. Your class officers have led you through some interesting times, including the fact that you reported here to the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades and are graduating today from Williamson College of the Trades.”

He also thanked the class for their gift to the school of the new entrance sign along Middletown Road.

In his remarks, senior class president Michael Schneider, said “I already miss this place. The bond between us students is what I miss the most. The Williamson bond is a very special thing.”

He then closed saying, “How many of us have debt — zero. How many of us have jobs — all of us. Life is good.” Schneider then passed the senior gavel to Raymond Drulik, president of the Class of 2018.

Next, awards were presented by Samuel Wrightson, Ed.D., vice president of education, and William Bonenberger, board chairman, followed by the conferring of diplomas and degrees by Rounds and Wrightson.

As the 72 graduates exited the commencement tent on the school’s front lawn, each rang the Commencement Bell one time, indicating they are now alumni.

Commencement Awards


Carpentry Shop

  • Alice and Granville Bohmler 4W8 Award, best overall performance: Kyle J. Walsh
  • Frank A. McKee Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Christopher Colvin
  • Beth Nelson Memorial Award, greatest contribution to underclassmen: Aaron M. Berard
  • Lesterle F. Smith Memorial Award, greatest improvement: Ian J. Steveline

Horticulture

  • Marjorie and Clarence W. Schrenk 4W9 Outstanding Achievement Award, best overall performance: Stephen J. Spranger Jr.
  • Isaiah V. Williamson Horticultural Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Kristian M. Cowher
  • Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Service Award, service to horticulture: Michael S. Schneider
  • Longwood Gardens Award for Excellence in Horticulture, outstanding gardener: William C. Krakowiak

Machine Shop

  • Kenneth H. Groh Memorial Award, best overall performance: Erik L. Hoover
  • John D. Beccaria Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Brian A. McAlinney
  • SCOTT® Shop Towels Award, most improved student: Miser L. Carter
  • R. Bruce Bellerjeau 6W9 Memorial Award, greatest contribution to underclassmen: Tyler Kutchma

Masonry Shop

  • Nuneviller 3W8-Fulmer Memorial Award, best overall performance: Robert J. Sandlin
  • Pennsylvania Concrete Masonry Association Award, for reflecting the values of Williamson: Ian E. Whitman
  • John J. Sabia Memorial Award, greatest speed and skill in bricklaying: Robert P. Murphy

Paint Shop

  • Alumni Association Award, best overall performance: Austin R. Smith
  • S.S.P.C. Award, excellence in structural coatings technology: Jesse I. Martinez
  • Charles V. Trofe 4W9 Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: John M. Woodbridge
  • Michael S. Zimmerman 9W1 Memorial Award, academic excellence: Jesse I. Martinez

Power Plant

  • Rupp 1888-Zipse 1953 Award, excellence in the electrical field: Brian J. Ellixson Jr.
  • Thomas Gustave Furman 7W9 Memorial Award, excellence in the mechanical field: Alfred J. Kurtz
  • Exelon Power/Thomas M. Callahan 7W9 Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Dominic J. Marascio Jr.
  • Michael Savage 1W2 Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Kevin P. Knapp Jr.

Academic

  • John G. Boyd 2W8 Memorial Award, excellence in architectural drafting: Kyle J. Walsh
  • William H. Krell Memorial Award, excellence in mechanical drafting: Tyler Kutchma
  • Robert Crawford Award, greatest improvement in trade and academic work: Shane P. Goodworth
  • Academic Honors Award, attaining a cumulative average of 3.5 or better: Jonathan D. Carnes, Daniel J. Coleman, Jon P. Collins, Thomas Concannon, Blake S. Dunston, Brian J. Ellixson Jr., Joshua D. Hauser, Thomas C. Heffner Jr., Tyler Kutchma, Dominic J. Marascio Jr., Ryan K. Martin, Jesse I. Martinez, Brian A. McAlinney, Anthony J. Pirato, Michael S. Schneider, Kyle J. Walsh
  • Monroe L. Nute 2W3 Award, highest educational achievement: Michael S. Schneider

General

  • Work-Service Award, service above the call of duty: Jeffrey D. Handley
  • Lynford J. Williams 0W7 Award, excellence in scholarship and athletics: Blake S. Dunston
  • Johnson Perseverance Award, for overcoming considerable adversity: Sean F. McCloskey
  • Good Citizenship Award, no disciplinary points in three years: Daniel J. Coleman, Jon P. Collins, Joshua D. Hauser, Thomas C. Heffner Jr., Tyler Kutchma, Ryan K. Martin, Jesse I. Martinez, Brian A. McAlinney, Stephen J. Spranger Jr.
  • Jeanette and James R. Clemens 3W4 Award, citizenship, leadership, and scholarship: Jesse I. Martinez

Miscellaneous Awards

  • William T. and Veronica Swinehart Award for Machine Shop: Isaac D. Eshenour 1W9
  • Arthur S. Yeaw Memorial Award for Music: James T. Strickland 1W9
  • Arthur S. Yeaw Memorial Award for English: Kyle J. Walsh 1W7
  • The Joseph C. Lonabaugh Sr. Memorial Award, to the power plant technology student who demonstrated excellence in leadership as a plant operator: Thomas C. Heffner Jr.
  • Power Plant Technology, Best All Around Junior: John E. Collins 1W8
  • Power Plant Technology, Best Junior Class Mechanic: Timothy J. Bozzelli 1W8
  • Power Plant Technology, Best Junior Class Operator: Cody M. Miller 1W8
  • Power Plant Technology, Best Junior Class I&E Tech: Arsenio A. Kerr 1W8

Yearbook

  • Co-Editors: Eric M. Sheller 1W7 and Kevin P. Knapp Jr.