Top 10 grads praised by Bellavia at annual academic excellence awards dinner

Photos by Tom Rivers: (Left) Annabelle Follman is hugged by Sharon Smith, Lyndonville Central School superintendent, during the Academic Excellence Awards Dinner on Tuesday evening at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville. (Right) Lisa Levett, president of the Kendall Board of Education, gives Aubreye Haskins a medallion for being in Kendall’s Top 10 of graduates.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 June 2023 at 3:43 pm

David Bellavia, a 1994 Lyndonville graduate, gives a keynote address to the students. He said they are very fortunate to have grown up in a community that values respect and decency.

LYNDONVILLE – The Top 10 graduates at four schools districts in Orleans County – Holley, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina – were recognized on Tuesday evening at the 37th annual Orleans County Academic Excellence Awards Dinner. (Albion does a separate honors convocation for seniors with grade point averages at 90 or above.)

The students and their families were invited to the White Birch Golf Course for dinner, and the honor grads received a medallion and certificate for their achievements.

David Bellavia, a Medal of Honor recipient for his acts of valor in Iraq during the War on Terrorism, served as keynote speaker. Bellavia is a 1994 Lyndonville graduate. He works as a radio host and travels as an ambassador for the U.S. Army. Bellavia’s second book was published last year, “Remember the Ramrods: An Army Brotherhood in War and Peace.”

His flight was delayed on Tuesday and he arrived at the tail end of banquet. He apologized for looking like a stage hand from Les Misérables in all black shirt and pants. Bellavia urged the grads to feel gratitude for their family, teachers and community.

“I am from the greatest town in America,” Bellavia declared. “I’m from Lyndonville.”

He said he was very fortunate to attend a school were his teachers cared about him. The Lyndonville community showed respect for veterans and didn’t make them feel like misfits.

He praised the Lyndonville community for keeping a vibrant school district, despite occasional pressures to merge with a nearby district.

“Many times Lyndonville could have folded,” Bellavia said.

He urged the Top 10 to go out and experience and compete in the world – “but come back and contribute to your community and neighbors.”

He urged them to follow their passions for a career and in community service.

“Your obligation is to show respect and decency,” he said. “I’m so proud to be from my hometown because I learned it here everyday.”

The following students were recognized during the awards banquet:

Holley – (pictured from left) Matthew Barlow, Morgan Blosenhauer, Sarah Kelly, Shannon Kelly, Julia Scrooper, Lily Sprague, Lydia Sprague, salutatorian Ava Quincey, valedictorian Elise Quincey and Casey Onisk.

Kendall – Jayson Crowe, Jacob Gregory, Taigan Guerrero, Aubreye Haskins, valedictorian Mary Jones, Michaila Moore, Danon O’Brien, Tobias Passer and Bruce Rasmusson. Not pictured: salutatorian Tori Conner.

Lyndonville – valedictorian Lorelei Dillenbeck, Annabelle Follman, Payton Grabowski, salutatorian Meagan Harder, Madison Kain, Brianna Krisher, Haley Shaffer, Parker Silversmith, Joshua Slingerland and Chyenne Tackley III.

Medina – Tatyana Baity, valedictorian Dana Faith De Vera, Lydia Fox, Gabriel Mark, Henry Rigerman, Hilda Santiago Bautista, Jeremy Waters and salutatorian Lillian Wilson. Not pictured: Melanie Kuhmann and Aidan Paul.