The 35 seniors in Johnsburg Central School’s Class of 2012 attend the commencement ceremony June 23 in the cafetorium.
The major theme of the commencement ceremony for the Johnsburg Central School’s Class of 2012 was the importance of learning.
Guest speaker Silas McKee, a JCS Class of 2003 graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Hamilton College and a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He told the audience that when he graduated high school, he thought he’d graduate from college, get a job and have life figured out by then. Instead, he found that life after college was a lot like life before college, except that his choices had become more complicated and his responsibilities had become greater.
Reflecting on his past, McKee realized a simple truth: the important questions in life are hard to answer. Who am I? What gets me up in the morning? How do I make a difference in the world? These are the questions, Mckee said, that never become easier to answer.
The best way McKee found to answer these questions was to learn more about himself and the world.
“Whenever I don’t know the answer to a question, I ask another question,” he said.
McKee’s advice to the graduating class was to “learn as much as you can about everything.” He told them to study science because it will teach them about the physical world, to study psychology to learn about themselves, to study literature because it will teach them about the human condition and give them something to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
In her speech, valedictorian Chelsea Gazaille said she wanted to address the undergraduates in the audience. She recounted how her grandfather took her to see the new solar panels at the Chestertown Town Hall. While he was explaining to her all about how the panels worked, she was amazed to realize that she understood everything he was telling her.
“Not only did I know, but I knew that I knew because I had built circuits like those in Mr. Ordway’s physics class,” Gazaille said.
To be able to apply something she learned in school to a scenario in her own life without any prompting or direction felt great, she said.
Gazaille expressed a sense of frustration because as much as she wants to share that feeling with other students, she knew she couldn’t, that they would have to do their own learning in order to experience for themselves. She encouraged students to listen to their teachers, even if they couldn’t see the importance of what they were saying in the short run.
“In school, you learn something every day that you didn’t know the day before,” Gazaille said. “If that isn’t one of the coolest concepts, then I don’t know what is.”
In the fall, Gazaille plans to attend Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and pursue a major in architecture.
Superintendent Michael Markwica fortified the message of the importance and value of learning. He pointed to North Creek resident Rusty Leigh, who was graduating the same day as his grandson, Michael Allen. Leigh had decided to make use of Operation Recognition, which allows veterans who served in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam to receive a high school diploma based on what they learned during their time in the service. He noted that Michael was continuing the family tradition and had enlisted in the U.S. Army. Allen’s father, Matt, is currently serving in the Army National Guard in Afghanistan as a medic. Leigh was in the U.S. Navy and served during the Vietnam War.
In the class of 35 students 13 were members of the National Honor Society and six received an Advanced Regent’s Diploma with Honors. Over two dozen awards were given to students totally several thousand dollars.
Meghan Sponable was the Class of 2012 salutatorian. She plans to attend the University of Rochester and study neuroscience.