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Parishville-Hopkinton speaker urges grads to explore the world

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By RYNE R. MARTIN

PARISHVILLE - The commencement speaker at Parishville-Hopkinton’s graduation exercises quickly admitted he knew he was probably going to upset a few mothers, but he urged the school’s latest set of alums to travel and explore the world outside the north country over the next few years.

Shawn P. Spriggs, a history teacher and coach at the school, reminded the 43 graduates in the class of 2012 that 15 years ago he had been sitting on a similar stage at another St. Lawrence County school yet.

He admitted his memories from that night at Heuvelton are limited. “I got a diploma. I made $50. And one of the speakers said considering staying in Northern New York,” the 1997 graduate of Heuvelton Central School said.

Mr. Spriggs encouraged the graduates - even those that want to make their homes in the north country - to use the next few years to explore the country and the world.

“Make sure you leave soon while you are young. Take a look around. It’s a big country, a big world. And spring break trips to Myrtle Beach or Florida don’t count,” he said.

Mr. Spriggs urged the students to study abroad if they have the option. “Find a place where they have never heard of Parishville, and it shouldn’t be that hard,” he quipped. “Find a place where you are considered to have an accent.”

He also told the class of 2012 to develop long-lasting connections and work to meet new people. “Don’t hibernate in your dorm rooms, your cubicles, your barracks,” he said.

And the history teacher also suggested the new high school graduates should not be afraid to get out of their comfort zones and should try new things in the next stage of their lives. He said the students had been passengers on ship captained by parents and teachers for the past 13 years as they visited the islands of reading, writing, algebra and trigonometry. Now, he told the class of 2012, was their turn to take the ship’s wheel.

“Our school community and your families have taught you to navigate those particularly rough waters ahead,” he noted.

Valedictorian Monique M. Jenkinson, salutatorian Michaela A. Coventry and senior class President Elisabeth R. Lavelle also shared messages with their classmates.

School Superintendent Darin P. Saiff remember speaking to the class of 2012 six years ago when they were entering the seventh grade. He remembered talking about respect, responsibility and cooperation and the importance of those three words. “They followed through on those expectation,” he said.

The district’s superintendent said the students were ready to receive the ticket to the next stage of their lives and the new responsibilities they will face. “At times they will need help. But they have given a sound basis by this community and this school to be successful,” he noted.

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