Holley grads told to be proud of small-town roots

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 June 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Holley graduates are excited are turning their tassels to symbolize the completion of their high school journey.  Samantha Barniak, left, Cheyenne Bartlett and Faith Battaglia are pictured during commencement today at the school auditorium.

There were a lot of Smartphones out capturing scenes from graduation at Holley.

Commencement was moved inside due to the rain. Graduation is usually held outside at the soccer stadium.

The 77 graduates in Holley’s Class of 2015 are heading out to college and careers with advantages over graduates from much bigger communities, Holley commencement speaker said today.

Samantha Zelent is a social worker at the school district. She is also a graduate. And she is grateful for the chance to grow up in Holley and be part of the community today.

The Class of 2015 picked Samantha Zelent, a social worker at the junior-senior high school, to be the keynote speaker today.

“Show pride in where you come from,” Zelent told students during graduation today. “You’re not just from Holley. You are from Holley. Holley is truly an amazing place to be.”

She told the class she has been blessed with close-knit friendships and a caring community.

She recalled bringing some of her friends from Geneseo State College home when she was a student there. They went to Sam’s Diner for breakfast and Zelent, then Samantha Heise, was warmly greeted by many of the diner customers, who asked her how college was going. Her Geneseo classmates were impressed by the community.

Lucas Silvis holds his diploma with his mother Robin Silvis, who is a member of the Holley Board of Education.

More recently, this school year Zelent’s husband John was diagnosed with cancer. Zelent took a leave of absence and she felt the love of the students, who sent her frequent texts and Facebook messages.

“Because Holley is so small you have opportunities that others at bigger schools don’t have where they are just a number,” Zelent said. “Here there is an opportunity to know people on a personal level.”

Zelent urged the students to surround themesleves with peace and love.

“Go into the world and do well,” she said. “But more importantly go into the world and do good.”

Class Salutatorian Nicole Boyle urged her classmates to be conquerors and “go out there and show what Holley kids are made of.”

Emily Radford delivers her valedictory address.

Holley Central School Superintendent Robert D’Angelo and Susan Cory, the middle-high school principal, greet graduates at commencement.

Cory said the Class of 2015 has worked hard to prepare themselves for the next step in their lives. Of the 77 in the class, 53 will go to college, two in the military and 17 directly to the workforce. One foreign exhcange student will return home to Thailand, while a few students are undecided with their next step.

The Class of 2015 is collectively graduating with 450 college credits.

Joe DeFelice stands and is recognized for winning one of the scholarships announced today. Holley’s class was awarded about $16,000 in scholarships.

Taylor DeSimone is recognized as a scholarship winner and one of the Top 10 graduates in the class.

Board of Education President Brenda Swanger presents a diploma to Nicholas Pifer, who received the loudest applause during the ceremony. Nicholas was also recently crowned prom king.

Brenda Swanger also presents a diploma to Glenn Robb.

The diplomas are stacked and ready to be handed out at graduation.

Students file out of the auditorium after the commencement program.