130 Albion grads celebrated at outdoor commencement

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 June 2024 at 8:11 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Jacqueline Santiago Garcia, president of the Class of 2024, speaks to her classmates and the crowd at the Albion football field on Friday night during the 146 annual commencement for the district.

On the stage with her from left include District Superintendent Mickey Edwards, Class Advisor Kathy Winans, Board of Education President Wayne Wadhams and Principal Jennifer Ashbery.

A graduation tradition continued with the Caledonian Pipe Band leading graduates and the junior ushers.

Santiago Garcia thanked all of the families, faculty and friends “who have supported, guided and placed belief in us. Without you we could have not done it. I would also like to thank the custodians who prepared this event for us.”

The class of 130 survived the pandemic and showed resilience through other challenges.

“The journey ahead might be filled with joy, sadness and even confusion, but you must remember that you will overcome these difficulties. Live your life to the fullest.”

Santiago Garcia is headed to Brockport State College to major in criminal justice with a goal to become a lawyer.

She quoted her tennis coach and physical education teacher, Jay Kovaleski, who tells his teams and students to “live with purpose.”

“Live one second at a time, one minute at a time. one day at a time, and one week at a time,” Santiago Garcia said. “We can’t be perfect all the time, but we can learn from our mistakes and be perfectly imperfect.”

She also thanked her mother and spoke to her in Spanish. “Thank you for making me the person I am today,” she said.

These grads are happy with their big moment at commencement. From left include Jordan Marshall, Jennifer Lauro-Ramirez and Alison Gibson.

Meganne Moore, valedictorian, is headed to Geneseo State College to major in biology with a pre-vet track. She recalled attending Seneca Park Zoo in first grade on a rainy day. It could have been a disappointment but she said her classmates made up for animals that didn’t come out of their enclosures.

Ultimately, those connections among the class, forged over 13 years, are so important, Moore said.

“I learned that friendship is someone you laugh with, someone who goes on trips to deliver mail to the main office. It is the people you complain about homework – homework that could have already been completed in the amount of time you spent complaining,” she said. “More than anything it is the people you can count on and trust. These friendships have made my high school experience richer and more meaningful.”

The high school choir, led by teacher Elliot Michki, sings Albion’s Alma Mater.

These grads either head to the stage to get their diplomas or happily hold the hard-earned document. From left include John Bianchi, Isabella Gray and Kaitlyn Allen.

Kevin He, the class salutatorian, heads to the stage for his diploma. He is headed to the University of Rochester for computer science.

He gave the salutatory address and began by saying how AI (artificial intelligence) is transforming industries, healthcare and daily life. He then shared the opening of his speech was actually words from AI.

Despite the successes and advances of AI, he said the technology didn’t helped him in AP physics and calculus exams, in late-night study sessions, or with the laughter, tears and countless memories the class created together.

“As we move forward into this new phase of our lives, let’s embrace the tools and technologies that can enhance our future,” he said. “But let’s also remember the value of human connection, perseverance, and the irreplaceable experiences that have shaped who we are today. AI can assist and augment, but it is our unique human spirit and the bonds we’ve formed that will truly guide us into the future.”

“And no, AI did not write that,” he said.

These grads enter the football stadium. The ceremony was back outdoors after last year it was in the high school gym due to rainy weather.

Landin Chaffee is all smiles after getting his diploma.

David Stritzinger heads up to get his diploma while McKenlynn Stowell heads down the ramp after getting hers. Principal Jennifer Ashbery reads the names of the graduates.

Daci Doward shakes hands with district superintendent Mickey Edwards.

The grads stand and remove their caps for the pledge of allegiance near the beginning of the service, which was just over an hour.

Caps are tossed near the conclusion of the ceremony which was held on the new turf of the football field.