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Madrid-Waddington graduates 57 at Friday commencement

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MADRID - Class leaders offered inspirational quotes from the likes of Helen Keller and even Sponge Bob Square Pants at Madrid-Waddigton Central School’s commencement ceremony Friday as they thanked family, teachers and the community at large for helping them achieve a major milestone in their lives.

“I challenge the class of 2014 to find their own personal goals and strive to meet them,” said Alex Hammond, one of five student speakers at the Madrid-Waddington commencement. “Then make more goals and meet them too. We are all capable of anything we dream of as long as we remember to play the game of life shot by shot.”

Mr. Hammond also pointed out that Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880, a date that coincided with this year’s high school graduation. He said decades after her death, her words still inspire today.

“So when we each leave these hallowed halls of Madrid-Waddington Central School remember these words she said, ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Jessica LaMay, voted “most likely to succeed” by her classmates, said the honor made her think about the meaning of success itself. She told her classmates that success should not be measured in terms of money or possessions, but rather by learning to enjoy life with friends and family and learning to cherish each special moment as they occur.

“Maybe what made you happy was seeing the letters GPA followed by a high number,” she said. “But maybe, and frankly more importantly, it was taking a school trip to a place you had never been, being a member of a sports team, or being on the seven seed basketball team that won the Section 10 Class D championship; being part of the Spring Musical or in a choir group, or being in a class with a teacher you loved.”

Emily Murphy, another class leader and speaker, said Friday’s graduation ceremony was not an end, but a beginning.

“The greatest bend in the road is the one that forces us to change and advance to who we really are,” Miss Murphy said. “The one that forces us to jump off the bridge, or in our case, into the courtyard pond.”

She then left her classmates with the words of the cartoon character Sponge Bob, and his infamous line “I’m ready.”

“For as much as it aches us to walk away from the comfort we’ve found in the halls of Madrid-Waddington, we know we are ready,” she said. “Ready to conquer the world outside these walls...”

Classmate Alyssa Ryan took her time at the podium to encourage everyone in the room to do more to help others. She said benevolence is a cornerstone of a successful and thriving community, country and world.

Miss Ryan pointed out that there are 1.1 billion people in the world without access to potable water. She said hunger is the number one cause of death.

“We can change these statistics by devoting our time and resources to those who need it,” she said.

The Class of 2014 at Madrid-Waddington also took time to thank one of their favorite teachers, Justin Richards, as part of a special class dedication. Graduate Eve Ruddy, recalled the day she first sat down in Mr. Richard’s class, where he waited patiently with a stop watch in his hands until the students realized they were wasting time chatting idly with each other when they could be learning.

“Mr. Richards is not just any ordinary teacher. He is much more than that. Mr. Richards is a coach, a class advisor, and a club advisor, but above all else Mr. Richards is a friend.”

She added, “To say Mr. Richards is a good teacher would be a drastic understatement. To be able to teach is completely different from being able to inspire and to change the lives you come in contact with.”

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