Valedictorian Sara LoTemplio stands with her father Joe.
SARANAC – To Sara LoTemplio, she only walked through Saranac High School’s doors as a freshman yesterday, tripping up the stairs and spilling her books on the floor. She thought she’d never escape the place.
As the years progressed, she figured she already knew English and history had already happened. As she wondered what she was learning, that question was answered during one of her life-altering trips with the North Country Mission of Hope in Nicaragua.
A group returning from an orphanage told of the children’s dormitories, where they discovered a roof decaying due to sulfuric acid in the air from a nearby volcano. LoTemplio suggested galvanizing the roof, or rather, covering it with a type of paint to protect the tin.
“As they continued, I quietly realized that I had just used what I learned in chemistry in real life,” said the Saranac High School Class of 2012 Salutatorian, speaking to a large crowd at Plattsburgh State’s Field House.
LoTemplio was 1 of more than 130 graduates celebrated by family, friends, faculty, staff and Saranac School District community members.
The crowd stood, cheering as the graduates entered, men in red and women in black, cameras flashing all around them as they walked up the middle of the room and took their seats.
After 13 years of homework, rehearsals, practices, tests and classroom rules, graduates of the Class of 2012 have finally earned their rites of passage, said Superintendent Kenneth Cringle. In doing so, he continued, the graduates inherited the responsibility of making the world a better place.
Cringle stressed that they have been given the opportunity to become the greatest generation. He further reminded them that no exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down and helping another person.
When Valedictorian Alexis Racette took the stage, she highlighted the importance of being yourself, and followed that by announcing, “I happen to be a nerd.”
She went on to quote Star Trek and Harry Potter.
Our individuality keeps us open minded and helps us grow over time, she said. Racette stressed the importance of maintaining that individuality.
“We all have the potential to amount to so much as long as we are not afraid to face the future,” she said, before turning again to a popular culture reference. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”
LoTemplio, while in Nicaragua, learned something about the odds being in her favor when she discovered real-world uses for what she learned in school.
“Suddenly all the doors started flying open for me.”
History became a tool to learn from past mistakes and build a better tomorrow, and English provided the ability to adequately convey ideas, feelings and passions to the world. Even math morphed into solving the problem before her with maximum efficiency and logic.
“The greatest thing I learned in high school was how to learn,” LoTemplio said. “Looking around at my fellow classmates, I see a lot of people to learn from.”
LoTemplio said her school brims with exceptional people, such as athletic all-stars, entertaining actors, creative and passionate artists and talented musicians.
“We have so much to learn from each other if we only keep our eyes open for the lesson,” she said. “Take in as much as you can, because not only have I realized that I won’t be in high school forever, as I once idly thought, but we won’t live forever, either.”
LoTemplio ended by urging her fellow graduates to ask themselves every day what they want to learn and what they want others to learn from them