TICONDEROGA - It's a big world, but small-town Ticonderoga has done a great job in preparing its students to meet new challenges.
That was the feeling of Alex Walters, valedictorian of the Ti High Class of 2009, as he spoke during commencement exercises June 27.
"Small towns are often accused of lacking in diversity," Walters said. "We fit on this single lawn with, minimal crowding. When you can see every face, speak to every person, how diverse can you truly be? Yet I look out across my classmates and I do not understand this sentiment. Anyone who says we are not diverse has not met us, not looked and listened long enough to see our differences.
"Listen to 10 students and you will hear 10 different sets of goals and dreams," he said. "We will be doctors, business people, lawyers, teachers, artists, musicians, soldiers, engineers. We have asked the question 'Where do we fit?' and we have chosen, 'Everywhere.' Everywhere is a pretty varied place.
"We have not asked this question and made this decision uninformed," Walters said. "Our education has not be received in a box, or even just a classroom. For many, the school's trips are their only time out of Ticonderoga, but those trips are to places as close by as New York City and Montreal or as far as Spain, Paris and London. Our small town school has been showing us the world all along, and on the way we have met new people, seen new things and thought new thoughts.
"And that is just what we will do out in the world," the valedictorian concluded. "We will meet people who are different from us and think different thoughts that we will be changed by, whether those people are in college, the military, the workforce or any of the countless places we will find ourselves before, during and after. What we go towards after today is different, but we are used to different."
The graduation ceremony included the presentation of diplomas and awards to nearly 100 students.
The event also featured remarks by Jake Taylor, class salutatorian, who urged classmates to work hard and persevere. He also noted the many accomplishments of the group.
"This class has been a part of many great achievements in regards to academics, activities and athletics," Taylor said. "We helped bring our school within the top 2 percent in the nation, brought our football team to its first state championship game, represented our section in the state track meet, our drama department entertained the community with their production of Earnestly Ernestine, the quiz bowl finished with a remarkable year as the small schools winner in national competition and members of our bowling team participated in state competition, and these are only a few accomplishments that our class achieved. But they were only achieved because everyone participating believed in each other and in themselves.
"As we look to the future, I urge each of you to continue to have confidence in yourself, continue to work hard and continue to strive for the best," he said. "If we do, everyone in the 2009 graduating class can one day achieve great things."