COLTON - Dont cry because its over, smile because it happened.
That was the sentiment shared by Craig Miller in giving his senior speech during commencement ceremonies Friday night at Colton-Pierrepont Central School.
And there were plenty of smiles - and cheers - from the audience that filled the school auditorium - as the names of the 25 members of the Class of 2013 were called to come and receive their diploma from Board of Education President Shelli Prespare-Weston.
There was plenty of reason to smile, according to the speakers, who recalled the moments members of the class had experienced during their times at Colton-Pierrepont Central School.
For Mr. Miller, it was a trip he and a fellow graduate, Alex Harcourt, had taken to Ottawa for a Senators hockey game and realizing they had used the wrong rest room.
Or the time he and friends decided a lawn mower was a good mode of transportation to get them to McRobbies Bay for some fishing - until they were pulled over by an officer from the Department of Environmental Conservation.
It was quite the sight, and he let us off without a ticket. But he told us to wear helmets the next time we wanted to take the mower down the road, Mr. Miller recalled.
He shared a couple more stories and the purpose behind recounting the tales.
My first real point is to remind everyone that we need to remember where we come from. We live in a pretty remarkable place - a place where we can walk down the road and know everyone we see, a place where we go to school and we are all friends, he said.
Valedictorian Nicholas Avery shared those sentiments.
My message today is for those of you who plan on staying here in the north country. Look around you. We grew up in a beautiful place in the world full of hard-working, faithful people who will lend a hand to anyone in need, whether it be help with a business, taking food to a hungry family or just mowing someones lawn. Those are our strengths, Mr. Avery said.
But, he said, the north country also had it weaknesses - poverty that cycles from one generation to the next, a lack of available jobs at every skill level, lack of industry, very little public funding for schools and townships, and environmental challenges.
For our north country to not only survive, but prosper, we are the generation that has to step up and create solutions, Mr. Avery said. Dont believe those who you tell you you cant. I am saying to you, yes, you can do it, you have to do it and you need to do it.
He suggested his fellow classmates engage with their family, work and in the life of our community.
By that, I mean plan now what your part in strengthening our community will be, he said. Work hard, strive for the best. But bring the best back home.
Salutatorian Isaiah Johnson looked back and ahead, as he shared where some of their classmates would be headed in the future.
Andrew Cochran is going into the Marines and he was motivated by the challenge it would bring him. John Patraw is going into the Navy and his motivation comes from having a family history of the Navy. I think this is a pretty honorable thing that these two are doing, and I would just like to thank both of them for making this decision to go and defend us and make it so we will be able to continue to carry out the way we live, Mr. Johnson said, drawing a round of applause from the audience.
Others like Daniel Stone are going into the work force, according to the salutatorian, while others like Jake Crosley, Gyle Dominy and Brandy Miller will be furthering their education at college.
You dont need money and power to be successful. Success comes from reaching your goals and by being happy with what you have accomplished in your life, Mr. Johnson said.
Superintendent Joseph Kardash said he knew the students sitting on the stage would do well no matter what road they took in their lives.
I can tell you, I have the utmost of confidence that this group of characters you see on the stage know themselves, he said, and turning to the graduates, told them, The time you guys have spent together, you helped influence each other to know yourselves.
He challenged them to continue down the path that they knew was right for them.
Every time a point in your life comes, make a decision and stand with that confidence you know and youll make the right decision. Dont sell yourself short. Your potential is unlimited at this point, Mr. Kardash said.