PLATTSBURGH - Forty-six students from Seton Catholic Central have now begun their journey into the real world, experiencing life after high school.
The school hosted its 20th annual commencement exercises at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Hawkins Hall June 20, as graduation speakers reminisced about time spent at the parochial school and looked toward the future.
Valedictorian Genna M. Hartung reflected on her high school career as a time when memories were made. Each laugh, each tear, each mistake and each success made the students who they are today, said Hartung, with each moment in their lives being just as important as the other.
"It is also within minutes and seconds that a life can change: a baby is born, a loved one dies, or a graduation ceremony commences," said Hartung. "It is interesting how life can be so defined by such a minute passage of time."
Statistically, the passing moments are insignificant, Hartung said.
"In the lifetime of the average American, we will experience over 2 billion seconds," she said. "In reality, it is within these brief but numerous memories that we are truly affected, for all these moments combined are what create lasting memories and impressions that we are sure to never forget."
During her address, salutatorian Andrea M. Maynard said she will also miss her fellow students, which she likened to the ingredients of a recipe for the ideal class.
"Our class, the dough that we have created, is a perfect mixture of every parent and every teacher; taking their lessons, their guidance, their support," said Maynard. "When we started our journey, we let the dough set, the chemical reactions begin, the friendships to form, the family to develop. And, when the time is was right, we put it in the oven to let it bake."
Graduation was what Maynard considered the completion of that baking, creating a metaphorical loaf "whose unique recipe will never again be recreated." The challenge which lies before Maynard and her fellow students, she said, is to begin a new recipe for success in life after high school.
"As we begin, I challenge you, my class mates, to constantly strive to improve your own recipe, to set goals for yourself, and to achieve great things," she said. "I ask that you take the skills; the love, the faith, and the creativity that we have learned here and use them to never settle for second best."
The school's vice principal and athletic director Gary R. Ryan, who served as featured speaker for the event, drew from his 36 years experience as an educator, administrator and coach to give the graduates the advice of avoiding being one thing in life - average.
"Average is the best of the worst, worst of the best," said Ryan. "Do you want to be average? Do you want to be the worst of best? Do you want to be best of the worst? I don't think so, because I've dealt with many of you. You're not average."
"You have been given the opportunity to be above average," Ryan continued, "and you have that opportunity in front of you for the rest of your life."
Mark L. Barie, president of the school's education council, recognized that same quality in the graduates which he said helped the graduates reach one of the first of many milestones in their lives.
"Together, all of you represent the long and illustrious legacy of Seton Catholic Central," said Barie. "And, should there come a day, weeks, months and even years from now, you are asked 'Where did you go to school?' I hope and pray that you will say, 'I am a graduate of Seton Catholic Central, and there is no finer school in all of the North Country.'"
The school's principal, the Rev. Msgr. Robert Aucoin, also commended the friends and family of the graduates in attendance for helping the students get to their special day.
"We recognize each of you has played a special role in the lives of our graduates," Aucoin said. "You are therefore special to all of us."