Autumn Olcott is all smiles as she receives her diploma during commencement exercises at Ticonderoga High School June 23.
The Ticonderoga High School Class of 2012 is playing for real now. Graduates are leaving the safety of school and home.
“Today is a day of commemoration, a celebration of hard work over the past 12 years, but it also marks the beginning of a new adventure in our lives,” Valedictorian Brandon Russell told classmates during commencement exercises June 23. “Fifth grade graduation? Alright. Eighth grade graduation? Cool. Twelfth grade graduation? Finally!”
Russell cautioned the Class of 2012 that major decisions, some difficult, lie ahead.
“We still have a long and winding road ahead, and the decisions we make now may or may not make the road ahead a smoother ride,” he said. “It is important to think through decisions, especially those that determine which road we will choose.”
Helping prepare Russell and his classmates to make those decisions has been Ticonderoga.
“One thing that has impacted my decisions to this point is growing up in the small community of Ticonderoga,” he said. “Living in such a community, everybody knows everybody, and strong friendships are easy to form. I myself have built strong friendships with many of my classmates as they have with each other. It is time to all head off in our own directions to explore what the world has to offer. Although apart, these friendships will not break their bonds, which is one benefit of living in a small town.”
Russell used several quotes from Dr. Seuss to assure graduates their future is bright.
“Just remember, when we apply ourselves, we can take on any challenge with which we are faced,” Russell said. “We can move mountains.”
The graduation ceremony included the presentation of diplomas, remarks by Principal Mike Graney, performances by the school band and chorus, presentation of awards and scholarships, and an address by Joe Gonyeau, class salutatorian.
Gonyeau urged classmates to expect failure and to learn from it.
“I would be lying to all of you if I said that I, myself, have never failed,” Gonyeau said. “I’d be lying to you if I said that none of the students that are seated here with me today, have never failed, although I’m not entirely sure about Brandon (Russell). He’s pretty consistent. But each and every student here has made it to graduation through failure, because it is through failure that we can truly readjust ourselves and mark ourselves to the pace of excellence that Ticonderoga High School has set for us.
“With these ups and downs at Ticonderoga, we have learned to be resilient, to use a previous day’s mishaps to make the next day better,” he added. “We have learned not to dwell on the past, but, rather, to focus on the future, whether it be in the classroom by failing a math test one day, learning from our mistakes, and coming back the following day ready to slay the next test... or sometimes, in my case, still getting beaten up by the next test. But, always coming back ready to do my best.”
Gonyeau thanked teachers, coaches and others for demanding the best of Ti High students.
“Through four years, these guides have never settled for less than our best and have always pushed us towards greatness,” he said. “From our freshman keyboarding class to meeting with the guidance counselors for our plans after high school, the bar has always been set high. We’ve been encouraged to shoot for the stars, knowing that if we fall short, we will still be in a better spot than had we not tried at all. The point is, this class is persistent and is never satisfied until they have given their best.”
Gonyeau offered examples of successful people who have have faced failure.
“My point is that all of these graduates you see here before you are going to fail at some point,” he said. “In fact, failure is inevitable, but each and every one of these students has done something great thus far and is capable of doing something great in the future. Because something great is within our reach, it is our moral duty to act on it and do something with meaning.
“My challenge for this class of 2012 is to never let failure discourage you or get in your way,” Gonyeau concluded. “Instead, keep pushing forward and know that the experiences we’ve had and friendships we’ve made, will prepare us for anything the future has in store.”
The Ticonderoga High School Class of 2012 includes Jacob Ashe, Joseph Ashe, Makayla Backus, Tony Bangma, Hayden Bazan, Carey Bevins, Jolenta Bishop, Daniel Blanchette, Ryan Borho, Patrick Bright, Chris Burns, Delaney Bush, Miranda Davis, Jacob Demarais, Rebeca Diehl, Becka Friedman, Michael Fuller, James Gijanto, Joseph Gonyeau, Karsen Granger, Troy Granger, Natasha Grey, Ryun Grey, Abigail Gurney, Paige Hughes, Alex Joiner, Stephen Jordon, Ben Karkoski, Edward Kearns, Shannen Kelly, Corey King, Billy Kohrman, Joseph LaPerle, William Lawrie, Nathan Lenhart, Adam Losher, Kyrstie McGuire, Darryl McKeown, Mara McLaughlin, Samantha McLaughlin, Joseph Messier, Megan Moser, Starsha Moses, Brooke Nadeau, Emilee Namer, Rourk Nielsen, Autumn Olcott, Mersadie Olcott, Melissa Pockett, Walter Porter, Dusteana Putnam, Jordan Quesnel, Derek Relyea, Josh Ross, Logan Ross, Brandon Russell, Logan Schryer, Megan Schryer, Courtney Shaner, Courtney Smith, Sean Smith, Tabitha Taylor, Andrew terSteege, Dennis Towne, Harley Trudeau, Karrissa Tucker, Cody Vickroy, Kassidy Wertz, Doug Wilson, Tia Winchell, Stephen Wojciechowicz, Sierra Woodard, Samantha Woods and Allen Zhang.