Albion convocation celebrates top students

Posted 20 May 2014 at 12:00 am

They are told community is rooting for their success

Photos by Sue Cook – Lydia Erakare’s father Jan-Mikael Erakare places her honor cords around her neck during the Academic Honors Convocation Dinner at Hickory Ridge Country Club.

The Albion Class of 2014 Academic Honors Students pose for a picture at Hickory Ridge.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

HOLLEY – Six years ago the Albion School District decided it was time to honor more than the top ten of the graduating class at an annual honors convocation dinner.

The school began to recognize all students with a cumulative average grade of 90 percent or higher throughout their four years of high school. Last night, 35 students were honored at the school’s convocation dinner.

“I think it’s just a great night to recognize those kids who really have over the last four years achieved remarkable success in their coursework,” said Albion School Superintendent Michael Bonnewell. “We recognize a lot of things throughout the year, but tonight really is about our main purpose: academic achievement.”

Albion alum Marsha Rivers was invited as guest speaker for the event. Rivers was example to the students of what success looks like through her career and volunteer efforts. She is currently the Development Director of Hospice of Orleans and serves on various local committees. (Note: Marsha Rivers is also the wife of Editor Tom Rivers.)

Marsha Rivers addresses the crowd at the convocation dinner. She is joined at the podium by Gary Simboli, Julie Sanford (in honor of her mother-in-law Elma Sanford), Betty Sue Miller, Linda Kerr, and Karen and Ron Sodoma.

Each person on the stage influenced Rivers. She told a story about teachers and how they can deeply affect your life in big and small ways. They taught her positivity, the blessing of friendship, taking care of one another, using mind over matter, determination, honesty and many more traits that she would use throughout her life.

“You also have what the scriptures call a ‘cloud of witnesses,’ people who have gone before you who have helped you learn and grow, people who care deeply about your success in life. These people, your family, your friends, your community, including some people you have never met, we care about your well-being and are rooting for you,” Rivers told the students.

She explained why she makes an effort to be so giving to others through volunteer work and other ventures in the community. “Others have invested in me, so I want to do my part to help others. No matter what you end up doing for work, people will be what matter most.”

Joshua Raymond accepts a state citation from Eileen Banker, who is the chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Hawley. Others in the receiving line to offer congratulations include, from left: Raymond’s mother Holly, Superintendent Michael Bonnewell, and High School Principal Leslie Strauss.

Abigail Squicciarini was at the event with her mother and godfather. When asked why she had pushed herself to succeed in school, Abigail said her mother inspired it in her.

“My mom is a teacher. Just seeing how hard she works with her students makes me want to make her proud and go to college and have a good life,” Abigail said.

Abigail’s mother, Dawn, was a 4th-grade Special Education teacher for 20 years and is now an 8th-grade Special Ed teacher. Dawn said, “Everything Abby does, she does top notch to the best of her ability. She’s amazing. I’m not surprised about this.”

Her godfather, Charles Palella added, “Could not be more proud of her. She’s become such an intelligent, big-hearted, athletic, beautiful lady.”

Chloe Christofaro walks the stage shaking hands with members of the Board of Education. Members of the board who were present for the ceremony include, from left: Brenda McQuillan, Margy Brown, Dean Dibley, David Sidari, Linda Weller, Kevin Doherty and Marlene Seielstad. Chloe plans to attend SUNY Brockport for Biology.

Kali Benjovski said, “It’s been my goal since I was little to be in the top 10.” She said she knew she wanted that since middle school. She believes she is eighth on the school’s top 10 list.

Kali was seated with Kelsey Schmitt. The girls’ mothers, Brenda Benjovsky and Cathy Schmitt, spoke highly together of the girls and their accomplishments.

The class of 2014 students to achieve academic honors: Carley Adamo, Elizabeth Banty, Connor Barleben, Kali Benjovsky, Brooke Chandler, Chloe Christofaro, Julissa Curcie, Mitchell De Smit, Bradlee Driesel, Lydia Erakare, Sabrina Finzer, Samantha Gramlich, Jordan Grimble, Ryan Haight, Tierra Hastings, Emily Joslyn, Robert June, Benjamin Kirby, Nicholas McMullen, Zachary McMullen, Kourtni Mietlicki, Sierra Morgan, Kenda Morrison, Alise Pangrazio, Joshua Raymond, Kelsey Schmitt, Becca Sills, Amber Smarpat, Martha Smith, Abigail Squicciarini, Steven Stauss, Jonathan Trembley, Johnathan Warne, Shannan Wells and Brett Zicari.