GLOVERSVILLE - Beneath an air show of projectile beach balls and mortarboards peppered with pink, green and blue Silly String sat the gowned class of 2012 at Gloversville High School.
With tassels turned to the left, the more than 140 graduates at the 135th GHS?commencement exercises emerged as the newest members of adult society Saturday, armed with diplomas in the high school gymnasium and ready to carry onward into careers in the U.S. Armed Forces, college or the workforce.
But before that, they were given one more lesson by Interim Superintendent Cliff Moses.
Gloversville High School class of 2012 Valedictorian Cody Webber gestures as he speaks Saturday during commencement at GHS. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
During his address, he gave Valedictorian Cody Webber a bottle of water and Salutatorian Melissa Schneider a container of sand.
"What Melissa is holding is your future and all the things that might happen to you in the future," Moses said. "What Cody has is your past, and Cody is very slowly going to show you how your past can mix with your future."
As Webber poured the water into the sand, Moses told the graduates to visualize their past.
"You see, a lot of your past can blend into where your future is," he said, adding later in the speech, "As you travel off to great places, you'll be looking through a big windshield, but I ask you to occasionally remember to look through the rear view mirror, because in that mirror you will see the people who made you who you are today."
His words echoed those of Webber and Schneider.
"Though we are leaving, and though we will have what will seem to be a new life, it is imperative to remember this place," Webber said as he listed the names of teachers and members of the high school administration.
"I think it is important to take notice of the many individuals who have passion for what they do and want to pass their knowledge forward," Webber said.
Schneider noted the importance of parental guidance as well.
"I know that my parents have been there every step of the way. I may not listen to you and believe you, but I am starting to learn you are usually right, even if I don't want you to be," she said.
For their commencement speaker, the class chose Michael Hallenbeck, a class of 2001 graduate and 2009 United States Sports Academy graduate.
Hallenbeck, a physical education teacher and coach in the district, comes from a family of teachers, and he told the graduates he would not be who he was if not for his family.
"I was lucky enough to have a mother who was a great role model for me. She taught me the importance of three major things: work hard, stay humble and, above all else, treat others with respect," Hallenbeck said.
This year's commencement brought special reflection for GHS?Principal Richard DeMallie, who began his tenure as principal the year the class came to the high school.
"Stay together and lean on one another for support. Those that place themselves on islands and wallow in negativity will be washed away in the waves of change," he said. "Today, make a promise to stay together."