PLATTSBURGH - When it came to thinking about her time spent at Saranac Central School, it was a matter of counting the minutes for Kayla Brooks.
Brooks, who served as valedictorian of this year's senior class, addressed her 140 fellow graduates during the school's annual commencement exercises June 24 at the Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse, breaking their time spent in high school down into some serious numbers. During the past four years, Brooks' class was required to attend 720 days of school, which she broke down into 17,280 minutes between class periods, 6,480 periods of class amounting to 259,200 minutes of class time.
"Some of you slept through some or most of that. Some of you watched the clock for quite a few of those 259,000 minutes. Some of you may have actually learned something, which is probably a positive thing," said Brooks.
"The reason I've decided to tell you these things isn't because I wanted you to listen to me rambling off numbers and facts, but because the past four years are four years I don't think we should let ourselves forget," she added, noting the time they've spent in high school is a bittersweet memory.
When reflecting on moving onto their next chapter in life, Brooks said she was reminded of the old adage"When one door closes, another one opens." That saying, she said, is one she doesn't totally agree with.
"If we allow ourselves to shut this door completely, we won't be able to learn from our experiences for the future," said Brooks.
And, when it comes to the future, the possibilities are endless, said Brooks. Though some may say high school can be the best time of one's life, Brooks feels the best is yet to come.
"While high school was awesome, I'd like to think there are bigger things for all of us," she said.
During her speech, Brooks also credited those along the way who have helped mold her and her fellow students into the young men and women they are today.
"I do want to thank our families for giving us each a house to go home to, our friends for giving us shoulders to lean on, and to the faculty and administrators of our school for making each year enjoyable or bearable," said Brooks. "The past years would not have been the same without your amazing guidance, dedication and friendship."
Salutatorian Maureen Pellerin shared a similar vision in her speech, noting how the days of their times spent at Saranac Central, dating back to kindergarten, and the people in their lives have prepared them for this moment and for the future.
"Since the first day of kindergarten we have been learning, growing, and changing. Even in those early school days of recess, show and tell, and nap time, we were really learning valuable life lessons," said Pellerin. "As we start the next chapter in our lives, in a way, it is similar to that first day of kindergarten when we were placed in a completely different environment - unsure of what to do, or who to be. But now we have a strong foundation given to us by our parents, teachers, and friends that will hold us up as we embark on the rest of our journey."
As Pellerin and her peers move on, embarking on a life after high school, now is the time for each of them to grow and blossom, she said, leaving their mark upon the world.
"New adventures and endless possibilities await us, but as we continue on our journey we need to remember that the learning doesn't stop here, and we must continue to build upon this foundation started on that very first day of kindergarten," she said. "As we leave Saranac High School and go out into the world, we must not forget our roots and we must remember it is always best to hold hands and stick together."