Singing the Dave Matthews song “Where Are We Going,” at Lake George High School 2013 graduation ceremonies June 22, are seniors (left to right): Kierstynn Morehouse, Gloria Melofchik, Emma Feathers, Kaitlin Bauder, Carly Barrett, Mitchell Hayden and Daniel Jardine.
Waiting to lead a procession of faculty members into the gymnasium for commencement ceremonies, Lake George Superintendent of Schools Patrick Dee looked down the hallway at the seniors garbed in satin graduation robes.
“The Class of 2013 is a very cohesive, hard-working, high-performing group of students, and we’ll miss them,” he said.
Not only was the class academically outstanding and community oriented, he said, but several of the class members were on the team that proved their character and determination in winning the Class C championship in basketball. Also, a team of Lake George students, including several seniors, won a national award from the Future Business Leaders of America, he said.
“We are all so proud of their accomplishments,” he said.
Soon after, top honors students at Lake George offered their thoughts during the ceremony. Mason Gentner and Amber Ruther, in their speeches, focused on the future.
“The challenges we’ll face after today will determine our character and prosperity,” Gentner said. “Have the confidence to think for yourself and the audacity to express your ideas no matter how original. Don’t be afraid to take risks and question methods.”
Ruther said that her fellow graduates could apply the problem solving skills they acquired in school to solve society’s prevailing problems including violence, corruption and poverty.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world,” she said, quoting Margaret Mead. “We can take our time and talents to mold the world as we choose — all it takes is dedication.”
Aftab Bhatti and Hahnah Saroff spoke on the topic “Transitions.”
Bhatti said one’s route through life was achieved one small step at a time.
“Like a staircase, use your past to help you get to the future,” he said.
Saroff said her life in the past 17 years had revolved around Lake George Central.
“I spent more time at school than in my own house,” she said. “The last four years laid the foundations that will enable us to make the most of our lives, establishing ourselves as thinking, competent, influential members of society,” she said.
Mackenzie Baertschi and Emma Underwood spoke about the school community and area citizens.
As an athlete, she recalled the support from not only the faculty and staff, but from the citizens of Lake George, as well as surrounding communities.
“What better town is there to live in?” she asked.
Class Vice President Tyler Prime presented a gift to Vicky Greene.
“She’s always been a great source of guidance and knowledge — and she’s been a great friend,” he said.
He recalled the campaign to win the state boys basketball championship.
“The basketball team’s season touched the whole county and brought us all together,” he said.
As he offered advice to the graduates, Dee also referred to entire class as well as the determined season-long effort of the boys basketball team that concluded in the New York State Class C championship.
“Find your passion, and give it your best effort,” he said. “Success comes to those who never quit — and this is a group of students who never quit!”
Senior Robert Leombruno announced that the class charitable gift would go to Double H Hole in the Woods Ranch.
“There are those who will never experience the feeling of walking on this stage and receiving a diploma,” he said, referring to the Ranch’s young campers who face life-threatening illnesses.
Principal Fran Cocozza, who annually offers a surprise presentation at graduation ceremonies, employed his five children to exemplify stages of development, based on the Sound of Music theme song, “Do-Re-Mi.”
At prior ceremonies, Cocozza plunged from a gym wall, sang a rap song with a student and had a group of Lake Georgians, from age five through senior years, offer the graduates advice.
In concluding his presentation, Cocozza borrowed a theme from the Sound of Music.
“Wherever you go and whatever you do, never forget where you’ve been,” he said. “Remember your roots, past, community and school.”