CANAJOHARIE - The largest graduating class in the 134-year history of Canajoharie Central School received their diplomas Friday evening in a ceremony that began with a video slideshow and ended with beach balls and confetti.
The video, shown multiple times as the audience waited for the procession of the graduating seniors, included slides of each graduate with a brief printed description of his or her future plans, whether going to college or joining the workforce.
Class President Alicia Stetin told her fellow graduates they have the opportunity to make a better world.
The class of 2012 at Canajoharie Central?School get ready to toss their
mortarboards at the graduation ceremony Friday.
The Leader-Herald/Marj Kline
"We will be the scientists, the teachers, the doctors, the men and women of the armed forces, the scientists and so much more, " she said.
Stetin advised her classmates to be careful of their words.
"Your words become your actions," she said. "Your actions become your habits; your habits become your character, and your character becomes your destiny," she said.
District Superintendent Deborah Grimshaw, who came to Canajoharie in December, told the graduates to celebrate their accomplishments.
"The largest graduating class caused your teachers to think differently," she said, then asked all the teachers in the audience to wave.
"You are about to become alumni, joining another large group," she said, then asked all the alumni in the audience to wave.
"Parents and loved ones, this is your accomplishment as well," she said, then asked all the parents and loved ones in the audience to wave.
Grimshaw then paused to honor Board of Education President John DeValve, retiring after 10 years on the board.
"Quite simply, Mr. DeValve loves this district," she said.
The high school jazz ensemble, directed by Timothy Field, then played "Alexander's Ragtime Band." The group, which included several graduating seniors, had played the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance" as the seniors and teachers filed into the auditorium.
Class salutatorian Katie Mason told her fellow graduates that graduation day is joyful.
"Do you remember kindergarten?" she asked her classmates. "We were afraid, but we were enthusiastic."
She recalled that they gave elementary teachers headaches, and that middle school was confusing.
"We were a very big class, and we were quite a handful," she said.
High school was a balancing act, she said.
"We enjoyed the freedom that came with driver's licenses and jobs, but we had to balance our school work and keep up our grades," she said.
Valedictorian Holly Schwab said she was proud to stand before her classmates, and she encouraged them to make wise use of their time.
"We've been high school students for two million minutes," she said. "The question we must now answer is, how will we spend the time to come? With every decision, we should keep our dreams and goals in mind. It doesn't matter how much time you have, but how you spend it."
At the end of the ceremony, Stetin returned to lead the class in the ceremonial moving of the tassels from one side of the mortarboards to the other, signifying that they had graduated. As soon as the graduates moved their tassels, at least two beach balls and several streams of confetti appeared out of nowhere as an exuberant final touch on the occasion.