Bolton High School graduate Rain Mantz (center) gives fellow grads Emma LeMaire (left and Eric Onjack (right) a hug before being greeted by proud parents following the school's graduation ceremonies June 21.
Following a decades-long tradition in local commencement exercises, each of the 23 Bolton High School graduates walked one-by-one from the stage into the audience and gave their respective parents a long-stemmed rose, hugs, and posed for photos.
This gesture, practiced for as long as anyone can remember, not only exemplifies the strong bond not only between the students and their parents, but between the students, the school faculty and staff — and members of the community as well.
The audience included not only the students’ relatives and friends, but local residents who attend graduation ceremonies annually to give the students a memorable send-off for the new chapter in their lives.
This audience, packing the BCS auditorium, chattered and applauded at photos, projected onto a screen, of the graduates as youngsters — in a video presentation that tracked most all of them, frolicking together at Koala-T Preschool then evolving through each grade of the primary, middle and high school phases.
Salutatorian Emma LeMaire spoke of this shared community bond as well as the students’ experiences together through the years.
“When I moved here in fifth grade, I thought this school was so strange because of its (small) size and how everyone seemed to be so close,” she said. “But over the years I have grown to love it for that very reason. We get to have an experience that students from other schools don’t have — we have the opportunity to get close to our teachers and really know their personalities.”
LeMaire talked of Math and Physics teacher Steven Beuerman and his continuing encouragement; History teacher Paul Weick and his trivia games; English teacher Michael Leone and his student skits; Science Instructor John Gaddy and his subject knowledge; and Art Teacher Aimee Sawyer and her patience.
“This school has truly proven to be a special place,” she said.
With humor, Valedictorian William Smith talked about the class of 2013’s character and diversity.
“We have always been ‘too cool for school,’” he said, mentioning the group’s diversity.
He added that Gaddy advised students to travel and experience different cultures.
Expressing the strong local community bond, Smith talked about the late Tracy French, mother of classmate Dustin, and how she had been a good friend to many and would be proud of the graduates.
“Tracy has been an unbelievable influence on my life — She is truly one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known,” he said. Smith’s reflections about French, who died in 2012 at age 46, prompted substantial applause.
The Class of 2013 was soon facing big changes, continued Smith, who is headed for University of Central Florida this fall to study Business.
“We will be meeting new people, learning new ways of life and be exposed to many different ways of thinking and expression," he said. “Whatever the adjustments that need to be made, we are indeed all ready for them due to the mentoring of our loved ones.”
Student Hunter Brown, who is attending SUNY Adirondack this fall, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The seniors sang “Don’t Stop Believing,” penned by rock group Journey.
The video presentation included tweets of advice from the graduates to each other, like “You are only limited by your mindset,” and “Never give up on your dreams.”
BCS Superintendent Ray Ciccarelli, whose son Carl was among the graduates, offered advice to the Class of 2013.
“Success is not defined by a single event, but preceded by a lot of hard work — the continuation of the things you’ve been doing here at Bolton Central day-to-day,” he said.