Minerva Central School Board President Michael Corey presents Shelby Hogan with her diploma June 21.
Minerva Central School graduated 12 on Friday, June 21 with Patsy Sullivan delivering the commencement speech.
The school also honored School Board President Michael Corey and third grade teacher Patti Gonyo, who are retiring from their positions.
In her opening speech, the Class of 2013 salutatorian Aleynah Gardinier compared her graduation to a kaleidoscope, a jumble of images and memories past. Her metaphor carried through the rest of the ceremony, which was filled with stories and anecdotes about the graduates’ time together at Minerva.
Sullivan, who taught art at MCS until 2010, had many fond memories to fill the kaleidoscope. This year’s graduates were the last high school class she taught before she retired. In her commencement speech, she recalled the unconventional relationship she had with them as ninth graders, trying to teach art history. Friday doughnuts and what one student dubbed “random dance parties” helped Sullivan bond with the class while trying to teach art history, a memory which both she and the Class of 2013 held quite dear.
“I loved their energy and quiet resolve,” Sullivan recalled. She went on to describe how the times in which we grow up shape us, drawing on her experiences during the 1960s — characterized by desires for peaceful change — and wondering what the future of a group that grew up in an age of corporate greed and terrorism might hold. Most of all, Sullivan wanted to make sure that the graduates “lived a life with purpose.” She drew upon advice from a book, “I Will Not Die an Unlived Life,” by Dawna Markova, to try and set the students on that path.
Sullivan illustrated the point with a wooden sculpture that spelled out “Live,” which she broke down into four components; “L” for love, “I” for inner gifts, “V” for values, and “E” for the environments that bring out our best. She challenged the students to take those aspects of their lives and share them with the world.
Valedictorian Austin Williams also delivered a speech. He drew inspiration from the concept of “ohana,” a keyword in the Disney movie, “Lilo and Stitch.” According to the film, “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” Williams said he and his classmates were definitely a family, and that he would never forget the special traits each one of them embodied. Williams highlighted individual strengths for each of his classmates, framed in stories of their experiences together. He was quick to praise the sense of humor the group shared and all of the jokes and laughs that defined their high school career.
“We really are a little family,” Williams insisted, “and I’ll carry my memories of you with me forever.”
In his closing remarks, Superintendent Timothy Farrell gave special recognition to retirees Michael Corey and Patty Gonyo. Corey served on the School Board for 14 years, most recently as board president. Gonyo taught at the school for 31 years, first as a kindergarten teacher and then during the third grade. She received a standing ovation from the audience during her farewell speech. Gonyo ended the ceremony with her favorite memory from teaching Class of 2013; when the class dressed up as their opposite sex parents for MCS’s Irish Pride Week. She thought the boys made the prettiest mothers in the entire world.