Members of the North Warren Class of 2013 sing the son ‘Carry On’ during commencement ceremonies held June 22.
Four years ago, North Warren Central School principal Theresa Andrew had attempted to find an adult advisor for the Class of 2013, but all the school staffers she asked turned her down, she said June 22 moments before the group’s graduation ceremonies.
But Tom Walker, a teaching aide at the school, took on the job, she added.
During the ceremony, Walker told the soon-to-be graduates that he had been fearful of the duties as advisor for the group of strong-willed, outspoken individuals — ninth-graders at the time.
“I was terrified,” he said.
But Walker’s tenure in the post proved to be a positive one — a profound learning experience not only for the students but for him, he continued.
“Mentoring you through high school proved to be magical,” he said in his speech that exceeded 20 minutes.
In his presentation, Walker advised the students to step out of their comfort zone, serve others, never give up, and not to quit acquiring knowledge.
“Wisdom is knowing what you don’t know,” he said. “Every destination is but a doorway to another.”
Three students graduate early
This class, labeled as “different” by school authorities, indisputably earned the title in the commencement rites, as three juniors graduated with the group — Alessandra Pratt, Hannah Tomaszewski, and Savannah Howe — after each one had earned enough credits to do so.
Savannah, an equestrian who is headed for SUNY Cobleskill and plans to become a farrier, talked of why she wanted to exit North Warren early.
“I wanted to get a head start in life and ‘go for it,’” she said.
Hannah also revealed her motive. She’s off to Austin’s School of Spa Technology in Albany this fall.
“Why not get ahead and move forward,” she said.
Alessandra is headed for Clarkson University this fall, enrolled in their Early Admissions program for outstanding high schoolers who’ve completed 11th grade. She plans to major in biomedical engineering.
“I want to help people in some way,” Alessandra said, noting that she would enjoy helping create new vaccines or aid in developing cures for illnesses or designing new prosthetics. “I want to be part of a team that improves peoples’ lives — and give them new hope.”
Valedictorian pursuing medical career
Also pursuing studies in the medical field is North Warren Valedictorian Christiaan Van Nispen, enrolled in George Washington University. His goal is to be a physician practicing emergency medicine.
In his speech, Van Nispen urged his classmates not to sit back and let things happen to them, but to go out — putting any fear aside — and make them happen.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,” he said, quoting Thomas Edison. “Seize the day!”
Several members of the Class of 2013, he said, were already doing so. Three students had completed the advanced New Visions Health Career program in 2013. Another had worked as an intern in the Warren County District Attorney’s office. Yet another student, a star athlete, had been named a top delegate in the Model of American States program and was now ready to pursue studies in International Relations.
“I encourage all of you, regardless of your home life, or academic history to this point, or any other condition, to work hard,” he said. “‘Happen’ to the world.”
Family ties are most important
Van Nispen cautioned his classmates, however, to balance their career aspirations with a fulfilling family life — which he said was more important than anything else.
“Your family is the one thing that will never desert you,” he said.
The Valedictorian also urged them to live their lives with integrity and to resist peer pressure.
“Live your life honestly, live within your means, and do not follow someone else’s path,” he said. “Make a difference, make no excuses, and do not forget the people that you meet along the way.”
Blaze your own trail in life
Salutatorian Ryan Olson challenged his classmates to pursue their passions. He said that his 10 years of being a dancer — working to perfect his technique — had helped develop his mental and physical strength.
He noted the diversity of interests among his fellow graduates, and urged them to likewise follow their individual dreams.
“Everyone in the Class of 2013 is unique, different and has the ability to challenge all stereotypes and social norms like I did — and everyone here can make a difference in the world,” he said. “Go for it — with anything you do — never settle,” he said.