By SHIRLEY PULAWSKI
OBSERVER Staff Writer
FORESTVILLE Taking pride in graduating from a small town school was the prevailing message Saturday when Forestville seniors awaited their diplomas.
OBSERVER photos by Shirley Pulawski
Forestville graduates lined up at the rear of the auditorium to begin the ceremonial procession.
Class of 1991 graduate Polly Hall said she was honored to be the commencement speaker. Hall spoke of her years in college after graduating from Forestville.
Hall told the class that when she first went to the University at Buffalo, her three dorm mates were from Long Island.
"They made fun of me. They made fun of where I was from, and that I was from a small town that they'd never heard of.
They made fun of the fact that I graduated from a tiny little school. ... For a while, I felt inferior ... that I could achieve more if I had gone to a bigger school ... but I shortly learned that wasn't true," Hall said
She explained that her husband attended a large school with hundreds of other students and didn't have the personal involvement of teachers and coaches.
"It will come as no surprise to you when I say to you that you cannot be overlooked at Forestville Central School," she said.
Hall recounted her own graduation.
"I remember what I was thinking when I was sitting there. 'What type of person will I become? I think at the time, I had a perception that I was going to transform into a different person because I was going to move away and move to college and start a new job. But what I didn't realize then is that the core of who I was as a person, my character, had already been set in stone. My foundation had been laid," she explained.
Hall said when she works on important law cases or faces difficult decisions, she often remembers the words of wisdom from her teachers at Forestville high.
"It's not the voice of my law professors that I hear, it's the voices of teachers from right here," Hall explained.
Salutatorian Joseph Caccamise said he feels the school has prepared him for what is ahead in his life.
"Every one of us is about to begin our own individual journey. For some it will be going to college, for some it will be entering the work force, and some will be going wherever life takes them, but regardless of where anyone of us chooses to go, I feel like we're all prepared for it," he said.
Caccamise said he has faith his classmates will all do well in life.
"I have all the confidence in the world that any of you can leave this school and take with you what you've learned and be able to live a happy and fulfilled life," Caccamise told his classmates.
Caccamise also showed appreciation for the people at the school.
"There's no doubt that we wouldn't have made it to this point without the help of our family and friends and especially the great teachers, faculty and staff and board members we have here at Forestville," he added.
Valedictorian Katherine Fickelscherer said she couldn't believe graduation had arrived after so many years of waiting for classes to end. "All those years watching the clock tick away, not ever once did it occur to me that it would all be over so fast," Fickelscherer said.
Fickelscherer also looked to the future.
"Graduation is a time to celebrate the end of a chapter in our lives, and the time to begin a new one," she added.
A sentimental note also underscored Fickelscherer's words.
"I want everyone to realize this will be the last time we all stand here together ... This is the last time we will have a chance to say goodbye to the people we shared some of our most awkward years with," Fickelscherer said.