BROADALBIN - Finding love, marrying and raising children. Working hard and taking one's lumps. Dealing with challenges beyond high school. The Broadalbin-Perth High School class of 2012 graduation heard messages about life from school administrators, student speakers and Board of Education President Edward Szumowski on Friday during the commencement ceremony.
School Principal Margaret Robin Blowers noted differences between the school's graduating class of 2002 and that of 2012. Ten years ago, she told the audience of students and ceremony attendees, 32 students graduated with a grade- point average of 90 or better.
This year, 38 seniors, Blowers said, earned a 90 or better grade-point average.
Amber Rose Holt, left, receives her diploma from Broadalbin-Perth Board of Education
President Edward Szumowski during the commencement ceremony at B-P High School on Friday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
"I really never thought that the class of 2002 could be trumped, but you did it," she told the 162 cap- and gown-sporting students seated to her side.
Student speakers Christopher Plunkett, Alyssa Miller and Kathleen Monks drew parallels between the common experiences their fellow students shared from the time each young man or woman entered kindergarten to the capstone of high school graduation.
Plunkett, who will attend the University of Rochester in the fall, told his classmates that no matter what paths each pursues, "we will always be united by Broadalbin-Perth."
In the self-effacing, self-conscious world that can be a part of the high school experience, Miller, who also will attend the University of Rochester, made the audience laugh when she wondered aloud why the school would have "an 18-year-old with the charisma of a rock" speak. Four years earlier, she said, she gave a speech to her fellow eighth-grade classmates. She cited dramatic productions staged by the high school during her secondary education career to make her point: "That sometimes we're led to believe one thing and it turns out to be something else." Everyone must grow up, she said, recalling the lessons learned by the character Peter Pan, yet sometimes it is good to learn to relax, to be immature. Remain optimistic, she told her classmates, just as Little Orphan Annie did. Defy preconceived notions of how people may perceive you, just as the lead woman in "Legally Blond" did. Above all, "stay open-minded because we still have a lot to learn."
Monks, soon to enter her freshman year in Pennsylvania-based Lehigh University, said that while she had become a part of the school community only in the last four years after relocating from Malone, she recommends fellow students listen to people older than themselves for wisdom. Recalling passages from author Robert Fulgum's, "All I Really Needed to Know I learned in Kindergarten," Monks told the audience to "learn some and think some." And that "no matter how old you are, it is best to hold hands and stick together."
There were light-hearted moments during the outdoor ceremony at the athletic field. From a huddle of blue-gowned young men dancing to a musical beat to the video finale of faculty and school staff dancing behind unwitting seniors who innocently gave advice to next year's incoming freshmen, commencement featured a mix of fun and seriousness, a nod to the overarching theme cited by the evening's speakers.
School district Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson reminded the graduates of the awkward stumbling motions of newly hatched chicks.
"You will find your own balance if you work hard and stay true to yourself and your own beliefs," he said. Referring to the book, " Don't Sweat the Small Stuff," by author Richard Carlson, Tomlinson told the graduates that life's lessons can be just that - learning opportunities. "We feel sorry for ourselves or that life will be fair or that someday, it will be. It's not. And it won't be," he said.
Board of Education President Szumowski blended a part of England's regal world history with his message to the students.
"Hard work pays off. Just remember that the currency of payment isn't always in dollars," he said. Payment can be in the form of something that involves big ideas or service to others.
The two-hour-long ceremony featured students Alexander J. Brooks and Megan L. Platt leading the audience along with Principal Blowers in the Pledge of Allegiance. Brooks and Platt, both earning a Regents diploma, will leave for military service soon, Blowers said.
Darek A. Wilcox, who will attend Norwich University in Vermont, also is planning a career in the service, his aunt Nadine Sleasman said as she awaited his stepping forward to receive his diploma. She also is Wilcox's godmother.
Camera in hand, Sleasman said, "I've watched him mature into a really nice, responsible, caring young adult. I wish him the best of luck next year."