By GIB SNYDER III
OBSERVER Sports Reporter
"Good morning, and welcome to the 154th commencement ceremonies at Dunkirk High School," Mistress of Ceremonies Carol Bleck said. "We are here to honor the Class of 2012."
OBSERVER Photo by gib Snyder III
Pictured are Dunkirk Valedictorian Samantha Saye (left) and Salutatorian Katherine Carr (right) who inspired their fellow grads to make a difference.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder III
Pictured are Dunkirk graduates Brian Katta (left) and Markel Vega (right0 Saturday celebrating after the graduation ceremony.
And with that, 130 members of Dunkirk Senior High School's Class of 2012 began the final event of their high school careers.
Parents, family members, teachers, administrators, and friends gathered at SUNY Fredonia's King Concert Hall Saturday to help celebrate the ending of one chapter of the seniors' lives and the beginning of a new one.
"In a few short moments, you're no longer going to be called seniors," Dunkirk City School District Superintendent Gary Cerne said. "You're going to be moving on. And when you leave (Saturday), I ask a couple things of you. First of all, leave with confidence. You've worked hard and overcome many obstacles and learned a great deal. You're ready for whatever challenges come your way next. You're prepared, so be confident of that. And I ask that you set the bar high for yourselves. Don't settle for second best. Strive to be number one always. You will accomplish great things and you already have by being here today."
Bleck introduced salutatorian Katherine Carr, the President of SADD, Vice President of the Student Council and a Principal Award winner, as the one who, "followed the Yellow Brick Road to be our Queen of Hearts."
"As we walk across the stage and officially become high school graduates, our lives begin," Carr said. "For the past four years, our real world was inside of the walls of Dunkirk High School. But now, there are no walls. We have the earth at our fingertips. As we leave Dunkirk High, all that is left is our transcripts. But what is written is only half of our stories. We have been ranked in order of our academic accomplishments, but we are so much more than just a number."
After an emotional, yet rousing speech by Carr, Bleck introduced the Class of 2012's top academic performer, Samantha Saye, as one who could best be described as driven, studious and voted the most likely to succeed.
"Throughout all this time, I've noticed one thing," Saye said. "We were that class. The trouble makers, the ones that the teachers couldn't wait to get rid of. That's who we were.
"You know what though?," Saye continued. "We do have some really great people who are graduating today as members of the Class of 2012. We have amazing athletes, like Josh Mleczko and Kevin Holmes and Aldyn and Alayna Carlson. We have fantastic artists like Ariel Alfaro, David Flores and Alison Galardo. We have talented musicians like Dylan Leone and Kat Carr. And, of course, we have the budding scientists, including myself, Adrianna Borrero and Amanda Reed ... My point is, we're not all bad. Sure, some of us have made poor choices along the way. We have been scolded, grounded, put into ISS, OSS, even Alt-ed. But (Saturday) is a new day. (Saturday) we close the door on DHS and open the door to whatever the future may hold for us: college, a career, the military, or even starting a family. This is our chance to start over. No matter what we choose to do though, let's give it our best effort."
The students, gathered together one last time, shared in some of the memories recounted by Carr and Saye.
"The past four years have been long and challenging ones," Saye said. "There have been memorable moments ... there have also been those moments I can't wait to forget, like the time I finished swimming the 500 (meter event) at Fredonia High School. I touched the wall with a new best time and then promptly threw up into their pool. You have to admit, that's more than the football team ever did."
Both Saye and Carr offered challenges to their classmates, urging them to make the best out of whatever their futures may hold for them.
"I truly hope each and every one of us takes this day as an opportunity for a new beginning, to not only follow our dreams, but to live them out each and every day of our lives," Carr said. "Don't just settle for what could have been, go out and try everything, because no matter the outcome, we will never be left with asking ourselves, 'what if?'"
"Make someone proud every day," Saye said. "It could be a parent, bosses, former teachers, or future professors, a neighbor, even just ourselves. But that is my challenge - to do something every single day. Even just one thing that will make someone proud. And as we walk across the stage and accept our diplomas, I hope that you accept this challenge. Be remembered for the good that you have done, not the bad."
Closing the program was Class President Krystal LeBron, who had her own message to her classmates.
"Guys," LeBron said addressing the Class of 2012, "it's our day, so let's give a round of applause to ourselves ... We made it. We have left our footprints on Dunkirk High School."