MADRID - Madrid-Waddington Central School graduates said goodbye not only to their fellow classmates, but also a long-time member of the school staff during Friday nights commencement ceremonies in the schools auditorium.
Joseph L. Ruddy, who served for 18 years as an English teacher and approximately 16 years as high school principal and transportation director, attended his final graduation prior to his retirement.
He recalled in 1962 when the school was still being built, but he and his fellow classmates at the time were brought to its auditorium for the first ever commencement ceremony at the facility.
Here we are 50 years later, Mr. Ruddy said. Its been a good run.
Board of education President Michael Mickey Miller lauded Mr. Ruddy for his 34 years of dedication not only to the district, but also the students. They always came first to Mr. Ruddy.
The students on the stage gave a standing ovation to Mr. Ruddy.
Our years here would have been immeasurably different without him; he played such a major role in our unforgettable time at MW. He has done so much for this school, and I know he will be missed, salutatorian Sierra R. Knight said.
Now it was time to move on, and Mr. Miller encouraged the students to continue to excel no matter what they did.
Youve worked hard to get this far. Dont stop, he said.
All of us - students, staff, administration and parents - worked hard and put forth a lot of time, effort and money to get you here tonight, and it was worth it, Superintendent Lynn M. Roy said.
Co-valedictorian Christopher M. Naccari said, even though they were leaving high school, the learning would continue.
We learn something new every day, and we will always continue to learn. Life is constantly changing, and we constantly have to adapt to lifes changes, he said.
The problems of today may not necessarily be the problems of tomorrow. In the future, there will be new challenges that we cannot predict, and that will be completely different from the challenges of yesterday and today, Mr. Naccari told his fellow graduates.
Our paths, no matter which ones we take, will always be full of obstacles which we must overcome. We can overcome them with knowledge and perseverance, he said.
Co-valedictorian Elizabeth L. Ruddy shared a poem she wrote that reflected back on their school experiences.
We knew, of course, the day would come
When we would have to part
But I never knew that with our school,
Id also leave my heart.
This building holds our present
Our future and our past.
Our times here may be over,
but the memories will last.
It only takes three minutes
To say goodbye, and yet,
I know that it will take, for me,
A lifetime to forget.
Ms. Knight said they had plenty of people to thank for getting them where they were on Friday night.
I believe everyone on this stage would agree with me that without the continuous support of family, friends and faculty here at MW this journey would have been much more difficult, she said, suggesting her classmates take the time to thank those who have helped them get where they are tonight, sitting here at their high school graduation.
With their graduation, they would be leaving many memories behind, according to the salutatorian.
It is the people whom I share the stage with tonight that have made my years here so unforgettable, and I am lucky to have known all of you, Ms. Knight said. I wish you luck in all of your future endeavors, and I know you all will find your specific way to live life. After all, you only live once.