Willsboro Central School valedictorian Gabrielle Coonrod leads her classmates in moving the tassels on their graduation caps near the end of the commencement ceremony June 21.
Linda Jacques was part of both the opening and closing chapters for the Willsboro Central School Class of 2013.
As the kindergarten teacher in 2000, she welcomed the children into the former school building as her students. Now a Pre-K teacher and guest speaker at the June 21 graduation, she wished them farewell as graduates in an emotional commencement address.
“When I see the finished product of the class of 2013, I see many of the strengths and abilities that you began with in kindergarten,” Jacques said. “The class of 2013 will always have a special place in Willsboro as well as in my heart.”
Jacques commented on the fact that this class was the last group of students to be a part of the former school building, which is now the Champlain Valley Senior Community.
“You were the last class to run around my classroom and play in ‘the pit,’” Jacques said. “Now, the old building has a new purpose and I think that we can all learn a lot from that. Don’t let anyone stop your vision of what you believe is possible. Go out and do something and make a difference.”
School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell told the 19 graduates to work hard in their pursuits.
“If you give it your all, amazing things will happen, but rarely will they happen exactly as you expected,” Broadwell said. “You have completed one phase in your life, and we wish you luck, success, happiness and health as you graduate.”
Class valedictorian Gabrielle Coonrod told her classmates to be open to change throughout life.
“I have had several different occupations that I was convinced were made for me,” Coonrod said. “For years I was determined that I was born to be a police officer, live in a hotel in Maine, and drive a Jeep. As the years passed, I developed into the person that I am today. Along with my changing characteristics and priorities, my life goals transitioned. A career path was chosen and my future goals set a pathway for the person that I still hope to become. And even now, as we all know who we plan to be, I ask you to be open to change. Be yourself and find what it is that is right for you and you alone. Leave here tonight and remember the fact that we all change our minds a few times. Sometimes, it is what makes us successful as an individual.”
Salutatorian Emily Mero spoke to the graduates about having passion.
“Life is a continuous process of decision-making and problem-solving,” Mero said. “It’s a smoother path if you have a road map to follow, but you are the only one who knows the way. Your inner compass will lead you to the roads you are meant to take. What we are doing right now is highlighting the routes to take to get to our destinations. Once you have established the directions, getting there is much easier. Even if you occasionally make a wrong turn, your inner compass will redirect you. Have faith in your own ability to make your own decisions based on your passions, whatever they may be.”