MASSENA - Even a muggy summer afternoon couldnt dampen the spirits of the graduates and families who filled the Massena High School gymnasium for Saturdays commencement ceremonies.
That enthusiasm was evident from the very beginning of the ceremony, when Superintendent Roger B. Clough II stepped up to the podium and announced, Ladies and gentlemen, commencement exercises for the Class of 2012 are about to begin.
A few seconds later, the graduates made their way to their seats as thunderous applause filled the gymnasium and cameras flashed to record the procession.
When they were all seated, another round of applause even louder than the first erupted.
For the graduates, it was a new beginning and not the end, according to valedictorian Morgan Albert.
High school has taught us all a myriad of lessons since we walked through the doors in the fall of 2008. Freshman, determined to leave our mark at this school and take MCHS by storm, we started freshman 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 fellow graduates.
She said the faculty and staff had prepared them for what they were about to face in the future.
The faculty and staff of Massena Central have given us the tools to shape our future, so lets sculpt a masterpiece. Life is wide open, so why not be the class that comes back for a school reunion in ten years and declares that the bumps in the road of life, while difficult, were still manageable as we reached our destination, she said.
Those who gathered in the gymnasium also played a large part in their lives, the valedictorian said.
Inspiring someone to reach their fullest potential is not 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, she 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, Ms. Albert said.
Salutatorian Joshua Miller commended the students for their achievements in reaching graduation, and he challenged them to continue achieving.
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. As you sit in front of me today, you all have demonstrated the ability to achieve, he said.
Mr. Miller said, in order to succeed in life, they would need to continue holding three qualities - grit, faith and to never lose sight of what is truly important to you.
The last quality may be the most important, to never lose sight of what is truly important to you. Through all of your adventures, always make time for the little moments that bring you joy. Flash back to your memories made hanging out with friends, those wild adventures. Cherish the time spent with your parents, grandparents or maybe a day with your brother, sister or cousin. It is camping or pool parties or that time with your best friend when you just enjoy each others company, Mr. Miller said.
As graduates received their diplomas from Mr. Clough or, in some cases, board of education members, the applause continued to fill the gym. It erupted after Gabriella Young accepted the final diploma and the students were officially declared graduates of Massena High School
And on a muggy summer afternoon, the students shared hugs, tears and, in some cases, goodbyes.