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Salmon River hands out 93 diplomas to members of Class of 2013

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FORT COVINGTON - Ninety-three seniors atSalmon River Central School tossed their caps in celebration as they greeted their new futures after graduation Friday night.

The ceremony had a few musical presentations provided by the Mohawk Club Singers and Akwesasne Women Singers, as well as a selection from some seniors in the chorus.

Vivian Smoke’s Level IV Mohawk students gave a “Thanksgiving Address,” in traditional Mohawk that thanked all things on the earth from the roots to plants to people to the universe to the Creator.

“It’s usually recited before an event,” said Ms. Smoke. “We give thanks to everything by the Creator.”

She added that each of her students, around 15, had their own selection to thank in the language.

The opening of the address was made by Aaron Francis, who spoke a few words about a friend and fellow student who passed away in October, 2011.

“He was an honest and humble man ... a dear friend,” he said. “He was a hard-working young man.”

But despite the loss, Mr. Francis ended on a positive note to his fellow students.: “We must not give up. We never give up, we never back down and we never lose faith.”

Following the Thanksgiving address, Superintendent Jane Collins officially greeted the hundreds that were in the Salmon River Arena.

“This is our 58th commencement ceremony,” Ms. Collins said, adding that the student body is made up of those in the townships of Bombay, Fort Covington and Westville. There were 93 seniors; 83 received their Regents diplomas.

“Of those 83, 19 of you will receive your New York State Regents Diploma with advanced designation,” Ms. Collins said. “Three will receive the New York State Regents Diploma with advanced designation and honors.”

Ms. Collins commended students for taking their education seriously, while thanking the staff and parents for helping them succeed.

“Today, each of you will start a new chapter in your life,” she said.

Ms. Collins noted that 28 students will be going to four-year colleges in Canton, Potsdam, Albany and Syracuse.

“Twenty-eight of you will be going to a two-year college,” she said. “Two will be going to a technical college ... 17 will go directly into the workforce and five members will be joining the Marines or the Airforce.”

No matter what the students choose to do or where they decide to go, Ms. Collins made sure to remind students to take advantage of the opportunities provided to them to better educate themselves.

“The future is what you make it,” valedictorian Samantha Monette told her fellow students. “It depends on you.”

Ms. Monette urged her classmates to set goals “like where you’re going to be in 10 years,” adding that she wants to be a pharmacist and have a family by that time.

Ms. Monette gave thanks to her parents, teachers and her best friend, Salutatorian Kaitlyn Pickering.

“It’s time to say goodbye to Salmon River and hello to the future,” Ms. Monette said.

Ms. Pickering also thanked Ms. Monette, her parents and her teachers in her speech, as well as her sister.

“They were there for me every step of the way,” she said, “even when I wanted to call it quits.”

Awards were given to various students in the class, some of them scholarships.

After all was said and done, a few students had different feelings about their graduation.

Cassandra Boardway, who will be attending North Country Community College for nursing, said she is both excited and nervous.

“I don’t know how to feel about it, really,” said Conway Leaf, who is attending Algonquin College for pre-business studies. “I have mixed feelings. A lot of these people I won’t get to see again.”

But despite the mixed feelings, his mother, Loretta David, is happy for her son.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said.

Ms. Pickering said she felt excited and relaxed.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” she said, adding that she will be going for her doctorate in physical therapy at Nazareth University in Rochester.

“We’re very proud of her, her dad and I,” Bonnie Pickerin said.

“She worked very hard over the last four years to get where she is,” added Ms. Pickering’s father, Preston Pickering.

“I’ve very happy for her,” said Ms. Pickering’s sister, Kristen, who will be entering high school in September. “She’s a good role model for me.”

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