by Joan Andrews
South Hills Public Relations Specialist
with Jodie LeMaster
South Hills Webmaster
STATE COLLEGE — South Hills School of Business & Technology held its commencement ceremony for the fall graduating class of 2017 at The Penn Stater Conference Center on Monday, September 25. The President’s Hall was filled to capacity with family and friends who came to congratulate the 105 graduates as they crossed the stage to receive their specialized associate degrees.
Graduations at South Hills are known for the personalized touches that abound throughout the ceremony as academic achievements and special acknowledgements are announced. One graduate speaker was chosen from each of the three South Hills campuses to deliver a speech to the audience. Their touching words and stories of success that inspired all those in attendance, including South Hills faculty and staff.
Recently employed graduates, Zachary Hughes, who studied Information Technology at the Lewistown campus, and Pyper Petersen, who studied Graphic Arts at the State College campus, spoke with gratitude about the transformation they experienced as they faced personal hardships while students at South Hills. Both speakers thanked the staff and classmates-turned-family for the support they received throughout their time of study, and they expressed appreciation for their instructors who taught them much more than academic lessons.
Maralyn Mazza, Co-founder of South Hills, was in attendance at the commencement ceremony of the school’s 47th year of operation. This was a night she wouldn’t miss because among the graduates was her grandson, Serafino Paul Mazza IV, the son of South Hills President, S. Paul Mazza III. The younger Mazza received his specialized associate degree in Business Administration—Management & Marketing.
Words of inspiration were also shared by keynote speaker, Rich Fornicola, Centre County Treasurer and long-time friend of South Hills. Fornicola encouraged the graduates to carefully navigate their careers and lives and wished them both success and significance; significance which comes by making someone else successful.
Kari Schlegel was born in March 1992 and graduated from South Hills in September 2012.
The Kari Lynn Schlegel Memorial Gallery is named in memory of Kari Schlegel, a lifelong Bellefonte resident and 2012 graduate of the Graphic Arts program at South Hills.
Kari was often the exclamation point in any story about the Class of 2012. Her effervescent good mood, enthusiasm, and seemingly endless supply of optimism and positive spirit was infusive, lighting up the classroom.
Kari (right) is shown with her beloved sister, Mindy.
Her classmates still laugh at the memory of Kari wearing her bunny slippers on the Graphic Arts field trip to New York City. Groan-worthy puns and jokes? Kari had a volume of them. She delighted in sharing stories and photos of her four beloved cats as well as trivia and tales of Harry Potter and Disney World. She was a rare combination of innocence, maturity, trust, and hope. She was filled with a joy of life and an unconditional love for her friends, her family, her pets… and people she just met. That was Kari Schlegel.
Kari dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow for the South Hills “BooFest” Halloween party in 2012.
She loved her school, even coming back to audit several GA classes after graduating. Kari also particularly enjoyed returning to South Hills every summer to perform as part of the Music Picnic Series with the Bellefonte Community Band.
Kari died December 15, 2016, in a tragic automobile accident. It’s a loss everyone who knew her still feels. In the end, Kari truly lived her life with passion and joy, treating others as she wanted to be treated: with love, compassion, and respect.