By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
FORESTVILLE - A small class of just 48 said a tearful goodbye at the 2013 Forestville graduation ceremony Saturday.
The class of 2013 was a parade of yellow and black as they marched two-by-two onto the stage. They stood for the national anthem, sung by Sarah Pleva, and then as a thank you for their families who contributed to them standing at graduation.
This year's valedictorian, Emily Markham, said although their class is small, it has taught them the importance of close connections. She listed the class's cumulative accomplishments and said the class "set the bar high musically, athletically and academically."
In her speech, she also urged her classmates to push out of their comfort zones to reach opportunity. She used the analogy of an elephant held by a small rope, which is conditioned to be controlled by the rope but could easily break free.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Forestville senior class officers ring the historic school bell after graduation. Pictured from left are Treasurer Emily Markham, student council representatives Kendra Catalano and Casey Locke , Secretary Meg Phillips, President Emily Dillenburg and Vice President Adam Pleva.
"We can't be afraid to venture out beyond our comfort zone. Experiences that force us to think, open the door to new opportunity. When we step out of our comfort zone, we learn and grow as individuals. At some point, we are going to be alone in the world. The world is big and scary and not what we are used to. It's full of other people who are smarter and stronger and richer and more artistic than we are. So, it is our job to step away from what we are used to. We have to break the rope that separates us from the opportunity out in the world,"she said.
Markham added that being from a small school does not limit its graduates.
"Just because we are from a small school doesn't mean we can't have big dreams," she said.
The day was a tearful one as graduates said goodbye to close friends and classmates, many of which they have known since kindergarten. Salutatorian Kendra Catalano quoted Shel Silverstein in saying goodbye and encouraging classmates.
"Well-known American Poet Shel Silverstein said, 'There are no happy endings, endings are the saddest part. Just give me a happy middle and a very happy start.' This is the end of the year, we are closing a chapter in our lives today and it is sad. ... I would like to thank the class of 2013 for a happy middle and a very happy start. The memories we've made over the years are irreplaceable. I wish you all luck in the future and I hope after this ending you all have a very happy start," she said.
The commencement address was given by 1971 alumnus James Cash, who after graduation received his bachelor's in electrical engineering from Syracuse University and entered the U.S. Air Force, becoming a pilot and instructor. Cash now works on the National Transportation Safety Board analyzing "black boxes" to determine the cause of aircraft accidents.
He told students they probably think nothing exciting happened in 1971 when he was in their seats, but it was a year several technical advancements like email, coin-operated games and micro processors were invented.
He told students to take note of the basic lessons they learned in high school.
"Over the last 40 years, those basic lessons that I learned here at Forestville or from my parents haven't really changed and I am sure those are the same basic lessons you've been hearing about over and over and over throughout your lifetime from your teachers and your parents. And you know what? As much as we hate to admit it, they're right," he said.
He ended by advising graduates to "keep and open mind and never stop learning" and that success comes after hard work and determination.
Senior band members were able to perform a last song with their bandmates, "Fate of the Gods," before receiving their diplomas.
After each graduate had walked across the stage, received awards and turned their tassels, a balloon release ceremony was held outside.
The 144th commencement ceremony ended with class officers ringing the historic school bell, which is rung to signify the beginning and end of the school year.
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