MASSENA - It was the end of a 13-year journey for the more than 150 students who crossed the stage Saturday in the Massena High School gymnasium.
And, with those final steps in the journey, it was now time for the graduates to decide where they would walk next in life.
Where do we go from here? salutatorian Joshua Miller asked. Whether you enter the work force, serve in our armed forces or further your education, all choices require the same hard work and dedication to be successful.
Mr. Miller has exemplified hard work and dedication during his Massena school career, according to teacher Joseph Boyle, who introduced the salutatorian to the audience that packed the gymnasium bleachers and floor seats. Mr. Miller was student in the International Baccalaureate program, a three-sport athlete and a member of many extracurricular organizations. He was honored in varsity basketball with the Passion, Leadership and Commitment Award and received the Triple C Award outside of athletics for demonstrating Character, Courage and Commitment.
We celebrate his leadership, his achievements, who he is. Josh, youre an example to us, Mr. Boyle said.
But, Mr. Miller said, all of his fellow students demonstrated achievement by virtue of sitting in front of him as he gave his speech Saturday afternoon.
As you sit in front of me today, you all have demonstrated the ability to achieve, he said.
In order to keep succeeding, he said, they would need to continue possessing grit and faith while never losing sight of what was important to them, Mr. Miller said.
What is the purpose of working hard through life if you are not enjoying what you are doing or do not have someone special to share it with? Always make sure to take full advantage of what life gives you and experience everything you can, he said.
Teacher Rebecca Violi introduced valedictorian Morgan Albert, but commended the entire class of 2012 for their achievements.
The class of 2012 is an exceptional class, she said, noting that Ms. Alberts achievement of being named valedictorian was even more special because of the caliber of individuals vying for this position.
She has been a wonderful role model for her classmates and her underclassmates, Ms. Violi said.
Like Mr. Miller, Ms. Albert was an IB student and held offices in the Spanish National Honor Society, the Spanish Club and the girls soccer team. She was the Massena Central School District representative at the Hugh OBrien Youth Leadership Conference was an influential mentor in the Learn-to-Lead Program.
Ms. Albert was also involved with Reality Check and the Tobacco Free Schools Initiative.
High school has taught us all a myriad of lessons since we walked through the doors in the fall of 2008. Freshmen determined to leave our mark at this school and take MCHS by storm, we started freshmen year out strong, she said.
To the class of 2012, lets start out this next stage of life just as strongly. Lets leave our mark on the world because thats what candles do, right? They melt, leaving a part of them behind but burn brightly as they continue on into the unknown, Ms. Albert told her classmates.
They had gotten to this point in life with help from others, according to the valedictorian.
Inspiring someone to reach their fullest potential is not a simple task. Igniting the light within another person to burn like a candle is a life-long job and keeping that light burning is the ultimate accomplishment. Today we are surrounded by many individuals who have encouraged us. Like flickering candles, their presence has brightened our journeys, Ms. Albert said.
We all owe an amazingly large portion of gratitude to the iron strong web of people in our lives who have encouraged us to go after our dreams and make them a reality. So, thank you, we would not be where we are right now if it werent for you, she said.
Following the speeches, Principal Patrick Farrand announced that it was time to present the class of 2012 to Superintendent Roger B. Clough II. One by one their names were called and they stepped across the stage to receive their diplomas from Mr. Clough or a board of education representative.
After the last name was called, the students were officially declared graduates, beginning a celebration that started with their graduation caps flung into the air and ending with embraces, smiles and tears on the gymnasium floor.
And so the next chapter began in the lives of the more than 150 students.
With a positive attitude and intrinsic motivation we can do anything. So lets show this world what Massena Central is really made of, Ms. Albert said. We have the ability to set this world on its ear, so why not give it our all?