GLOVERSVILLE - The Class of 2013 celebrated the end of its Gloversville High School journey on Saturday morning.
The students and potential leaders of tomorrow heard words of encouragement from their peers, faculty and school administrators before filing out of the gymnasium and starting their bright futures on the paths they choose.
Members of the GHS Jazz Band started things off with a performance of the national anthem before Valedictorian Rachel Brown-Weinstock and Salutatorian Mary-Kate Poulin spoke to their peers about what they have learned in high school and what their futures may bring.
James Glynn, right, and Alex Hayes pose for a cellphone photo before the start of Saturday’s Gloversville High School commencement. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
Salutatorian Mary Kate Poulin speaks during commencement at Gloversville High School on Saturday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
Perry Paul, left, a former member of the Gloversville Board of Education, shakes hands with his son Brandon Paul and presents him his diploma during the graduation ceremony. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
Poulin told the class at this time of year people often quote great figures from history - she cited Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy - but she said if those great orators had focused entirely on the past and not enough on the present and future, they wouldn't have been visionaries at all.
She told her peers not to succumb to the pressures of social media and what others think but rather be themselves and make their own impressions based on what they believe and not what others think.
"As graduates, we are about to enter a world that is new and unfamiliar," said Poulin, who will attend Duke University in the fall. "Whether we enter two or four years at college, the work force, the military, or the leadership of the household, we will be given a fresh start, an opportunity to make our own decision and choose our own paths."
She told her fellow classmates the only way to have an independent voice is to have knowledge on every topic through research and exploration.
"The only way to make an informed opinion, a sound view, is by educating yourself on all sides of the issue," Poulin said. "Without research and exploration, your voice will never be fully developed."
Brown-Weinstock followed with a speech of her own about the lessons learned through each grade and how those lessons make the graduates who they are today.
She said the most important lessons weren't those learned in texts or on tests but in day-to-day living.
"I realized that the most important lessons are the lessons that school has taught us about life, love, perseverance, friendship and our souls," Brown-Weinstock said.
She said the lesson learned the first day of kindergarten, 13 years ago, may be one of the most important - that each person can stand up on his or her own.
Brown-Weinstock, who will attend Syracuse University in the fall, was also honored during the 136th Commencement with the Principal's Award. A watch donated by Castiglione Jewelers accompanied the award.
As the graduates took the stage to receive their high school diplomas, the howls of proud Husky parents could be heard as each pup took his or her first step into adulthood.
Levi Pascher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.