PLATTSBURGH - What the future holds, graduating students of Plattsburgh High School don't know. However, what they do know is that the experiences they've had will be something they carry with them for a lifetime.
The State University of New York at Plattsburgh Field House was brimming with friends and family of Plattsburgh High School's 2009 graduating class June 27, as 194 now former senior class students received their diplomas.
This year's class featured two valedictorians - Ethan Crockett and Brandon Dunham - who each delivered messages which reflected on time spent at Plattsburgh High and what the future might hold for them and their fellow classmates.
Co-valedictorian Ethan Crockett said while each graduate received a diploma, the piece of paper is more than just that - it's a symbol of for each student's own experience at Plattsburgh High School.
"What each and every one of us will take away from this school, is far beyond what can be printed on a diploma," Crockett said. "We learned early on that, although high school is primarily an academic institution, there was as much to gain from our experiences out of the classroom as there was from our time within them."
The lives of this year's graduating class are different from how they were when attending freshman orientation four years ago, said Dunham.
"Each and every one of us expected only one thing upon entering high school - an education that would one day lead to our graduating and continuing on to accomplish greater things in the outside world," said Dunham. "Yet, throughout those four years, we have all undergone numerous diverse high school experiences that have affected each of us in a different way."
"Without a doubt, we have all changed because of our unique journeys throughout high school, yet in that aspect we are all similar," Dunham continued. "We are a class united in the sense that we have all changed; each of us is no longer that same kid who walked into PHS the first day of freshman year. No. We are now young men and women ready to make our own mark on the world."
Regardless of what plans each graduate has for after high school, leaving high school marks the first major step toward being recognized as an adult, said Crockett.
"As such, we must begin to accept the responsibilities our society places on adults," he said. "For the greater part of our lives, we have been taking and benefitting from what society has to offer. Upon entering the adult world, however, it is our time to give back, so that others may benefit as we did."
"Years from now, when you look back on high school, I hope you remember at least some of the things you were taught here, but, more importantly, I hope you remember the things that made your experience unique," Crockett added.
"We have among us so many stars in academics, music, and athletics, it has been a challenge to keep up with the standards we have all set," said salutatorian Stephanie DeMane. "Without my classmates' competitive spirit and drive, I would not have been motivated enough to reach the place where I now stand. While I know that my family and teachers helped me a lot throughout high school, the people of my class deserve most of the credit for making my experience here as valuable as it has been."
Senior speaker Kristen Flynn said there have been many friendships forged from experiences in high school, as well as many failures and successes.
"This ceremony may bring our high school career to a close," said Flynn, "but, more importantly, it marks the start of each achievement we will attain in our future.