Holley graduates told to ‘open your wings and fly to another level’

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 25 June 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Kristina Gabalski – Members of the Holley Central School Class of 2016 enter Holley Hawks Stadium Saturday morning for commencement ceremonies.

HOLLEY – Sunny, dry weather Saturday morning meant Holley Central School was able to hold its 2016 commencement ceremonies outside in the Holley Hawks Stadium.

“Having the ceremony outside is a good thing,” Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory noted as the program began.

Holley Central Class of 2016 Salutatorian Xander Lee Apicella, gives his address to fellow graduates as School Board President Brenda Swanger and Middle/High School Principal Susan Cory look on. Apicella said it is likely the dreams his classmates have today will change in the future. “Pursue your goals with passion and determination,” he said. “Take every opportunity, even if they are not what they once were.”

In his valedictory address, Brady James Smith said he, his classmates and their teachers, “have become one, big family,” over the past four years. He advised his fellow graduates that sometimes what they might expect to happen in the future, doesn’t.

“Learn new things … expect the unexpected and adapt,” Smith said.

As Class of 2016 Vice President, Smith presented the class gift – a monetary donation to the school’s unified sports team that includes some students with disabilities. This year was the first time Holley took part in the program, fielding a basketball team.

“We would love to see them expand beyond basketball,” Smith said.

Commencement speaker, Holley teacher and wrestling coach John J. Grillo, spoke to graduates about how to make good choices after bad breaks and advised:  saying “I love you” are the three greatest words you can say to each other.

Middle/High School physical education teacher and varsity wrestling coach John Grillo gave the commencement address.  As a teacher at Holley for 30 years, Grillo said he has known the graduates since they were, “barely able to do jumping-jacks or say the alphabet.”

Grillo, who was picked by the seniors to be commencement speaker, said inspiration leads to motivation, which leads to dedication, success and fulfillment.

“Strive to go above and beyond,” Grillo told graduates. “Open your wings and fly to another level. Being a Holley Hawk has given you the wings.”

Principal Susan Cory said that of the 84 graduates, 61 will pursue higher education at colleges and trade schools, 12 are entering the workforce, six are joining the military, three are undecided, and one is seeking additional training through a vocational program.

Heather Anne Winkley receives her diploma from her mom, Anne Winkley, Holley Central School Board member.

Holley graduate Courtney Morgan Winkley receives a hug from her mother, School Board member Anne Winkley.  Anne Winkley presented diplomas to twin daughters Courtney Morgan and Heather Anne.

Members of the Holley Central School Class of 2016 during commencement ceremonies Saturday morning.