Schools across the region held commencement ceremonies for their 2010 graduates last weekend, ma rking a major milestone for young men and women and the communities in which they have grown.
The gymnasium at AuSable Valley Central School was packed June 26 as the community honored the 99 graduates of the Class of 2010.
Salutatorian Ryan Blaise encouraged his classmates to take what they have learned at AuSable Valley and use it to their advantage as they pursue their goals.
"It was by no accident that the events which occurred during the past four years did," said Blaise. "There was a design, one that has revealed to us the most important ideals for a successful future, which include studying hard to do well academically, working continuously to excel athletically, and being sufficiently earnest and trustworthy to confide in fellow classmates, creating friendships to last a lifetime."
Daniel Dohman, the class valedictorian, said he felt humbled to be chosen to speak in front of his fellow graduates.
"This class is really a remarkable group of individuals," said Dohman. "They are blessed with countless talents and qualities, and these are things that a numerical grade will never be able to measure."
Likewise, Dohman said, success is about making the most of one's talents.
"Success is all relevant to your goal, and I think that your ultimate goal in life should be simply to find what it is that brings you joy and keeps you happy and to do that, whatever it may be."
The guest speaker for commencement was Bryan Benway, a 2001 graduate of AVCS who encouraged graduates to dream big despite being from a small town.
"I achieved my dream of being a sports broadcaster, and I'm chasing a bigger dream now, much like you are today," said Benway.
The 14 graduates of Keene Central School took a moment at their graduation ceremony June 26 to reflect on the nurturing care they've received in the small community they called home.
Valedictorian Kevin Stolz said graduation marked a time of change that involved leaving home, but said home is a relative concept.
"I know everyone in this class well enough to say that none of us will have trouble making our new situation into a home," he said.
Still, Stolz expressed thanks to the people of his "first and dearest home," noting the support he's received as a musician and artist.
"I have always felt cared for and cared about, I have always felt encouraged, and I have always, always, felt loved," said Stolz. "That's something special, maybe even unique about this community."
Taylor McCabe, class salutatorian, urged students to be the change they wish to see in the world, taking inspiration from Mohandas Gandhi, among others.
"One person can make a difference," she said. "All they have to do is follow their passion and deliberately take the first steps toward change."
The 63 graduates of Tupper Lake High School were honored at their commencement ceremony June 25, and likewise recognized the people who helped shape them.
Emily Sanford, class valedictorian, said the class had their parents and teachers to thank for getting them to this point.
"Whatever you do with your life I hope that you know and will live knowing that there is no limit on your dreams," she said. "Life is about choices, choose well."
Salutatorian Amber Lawyer said her class has had a devotion to community service. She noted their wide range of talents and interests and their ability to excel in each one, whether it be music, arts, or sports.
"As for the Class of 2010; our foot print is unique, brilliant in its own sense, and too special to be filled by any other," said Lawyer. "We have done what we have done because of who we are, both as individuals and together."
"The things we have done as a class and individually have prepared us for our future," she added.
Valedictorian Tara Robare urged graduates at Willsboro to try new experiences, realize their true potential, and not let their limitations become an excuse.
"Not very many people can say that they came from a graduating class of 25 and a rural school that houses a little more than 300 pre-K to 12th grade students in one building," noted Robare, "but this doesn't mean that we can't be smart. We can be smart and excel in school even if we came from a small town. Our size may be one of our limitations but it is also one of our greatest assets."
Krystal Porter, class salutatorian, told a growing-up story using her favorite childhood toy, reminding graduates that it was okay to grow, change, and make new friends while knowing the old ones would still be there.
"Remember to take a keepsake with you to share the adventures that are to come and to serve as a means of comfort," said Porter.
For reports on commencement ceremonies at Elizabethtown-Lewis, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Westport, check next week's issue of The Valley News.