Class of 2014 sent off into the world
Albion graduates told to follow ‘moral compass’
ALBION – Students celebrated the culmination of their high school careers on Friday, with class speakers thankful for a nurturing environment at Albion Central School.
The 166 graduates in Albion’s Class of 2014 have left a record of accomplishment in the classroom, on the athletic fields and in the performing arts, the group was told during Commencement on Friday night.
The graduates were urged to keep pushing for excellence, with a focus on serving others and working towards the greater good.
“Just as we need others, others need us,” said Valedictorian Martha Smith.
She said social media and texting feed a “hyper-awareness of oneself in today’s image-based society.” She urged her classmates to turn off their phones and televisions and spend some of that time volunteering or talking with a neighbor.
“If there is one challenge which I would like to present this evening, it is this: To pause the selfies long enough to appreciate the beauty in others before oneself,” Smith said from the commencement stage. “To halt the personal status update and instead inquire after the welfare of a friend.”
Smith will study English at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester. Class Salutatorian Jonathan Trembley will be an engineering major at the University of Buffalo.
Trembley urged his classmates to be “mentally self-inspective consumers” because what the world tells them is often wrong. It was once widely accepted that sailors could fall off the edge of the earth if they went too far, he noted.
“The world isn’t going to tell the truth all the time,” Trembley said. “To battle this you should read, read, and maybe after that you should read some more. Cross-reference, delve deeply, and find the truth.”
Class President Lydia Erakare urged the class to “Live with Purpose.” That was the class motto.
“Do something wonderful, make a difference, and carry that phrase ‘live with purpose’ proudly for the rest of your life,” said Erakare, who will be an early childhood education major at SUNY New Paltz. “Keep it in your heart and let it motivate you each and every day.”
She shared the lyrics from the High School Musical song, “We’re all in this Together,” and told the group the graduates will always be a part of the Class of 2014.
“Even though we will no longer be in the same building or even the same town, we are still all in this together,” Erakare said. “Remember your friendships and memories and know that if you ever need someone you can count on your classmates at anytime.”
Erakare remembered three classmates who sadly died but still have a lasting impact on the class: Nicholas Kovaleski, Amanda Katsanis and Demitri Alexanderis.
Board of Education President Margy Brown praised the class for working so hard. She reminded them of their school beginnings at the elementary school where eight giant crayons line the entrance. The crayons are labeled with the following words: perseverance, optimism, honesty, respect, compassion, integrity, responsibility and loyalty.
“You’ve been given the tools to go out into the world and make a difference,” Brown said.
District Superintendent Michael Bonnewell also addressed the class, and told them commencement marks a beginning for their lives as the start college, enter the military or join the workforce.
The students will need a compass as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. A compass is used to find direction or to stay on a planned path, Bonnewell said.
“Like a boat pushed about by a strong wind, unforeseen events and people will, at times in your life, push you off your course – redirect you from your planned course,” Bonnewell said. “Sometimes you will lose your direction briefly, other times you may find yourself lost, far off your planned course.”
These are the times graduates will need their compass to get their bearings, he said. Sometimes a change in course is needed when new opportunities arise and the compass needs to be reset.
But one compass should stay constant – the moral compass, what people do when no one is watching and no one else is there to offer encouragement.
“You have a moral compass, you know right from wrong,” Bonnewell said. “Hold tight to that compass – and let it direct you and your behaviors and decisions.”
The small-school atmosphere with opportunities inside and outside the classroom was cited by students interviewed by Orleans Hub.
Brad Driesel plans to enroll at Monroe Community College to study fire protection. He wants to be a professional firefighter. He volunteers with the Barre Fire Company and did an internship with the Medina Fire Department. That internship, coordinated by the school, affirmed he wanted to pursue firefighting as a career.
“When I was standing at a crossroads, it provided a road map,” Driesel said.
He is eager to start college, and he said he will stay connected with many of his classmates.
“I made quite a few friends who will stick with me the rest of my life,” Driesel said.
Samantha Dumont enjoyed the school’s musical programs, and the close friendships in the school. She will go to GCC to study human services.
“You know everyone and everyone is so close,” she said about Albion. “But I’m happy it’s over and excited for the new chapter of my life.”
Jordan Grimble was active in the school musicals, working on the stage crew. She designed and made the 10-foot-high chairs in The Wiz for The Wizard and The Witch. She praised musical director Gary Simboli for pushing students to excel in the musicals. She is majoring in technical theater arts at Niagara University.
“I now get to go to college and do what I really want to do,” Grimble said. “I’m thankful for Albion because we have such a diverse program from the arts to the sports. We’re a diverse community and you can find anything here.”