Upward Bound program graduates 11 kids

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward Students from Dunkirk and Brocton schools were honored at Senior Recognition Night for their completion of the Upward Bound program at SUNY Fredonia. Graduates and program staff are, front row, Michaela Geffert, Cameron Harper, Alyshah Flores, Dylan Murphy, Sulymar Ortiz, Brisa Garcia and Academic Coordinator Ashley Rojas; back row, Director Loretta Torain, Cameron Kurek, Shaun Kelly, Program Coordinator Patricia Messina, Angel Reyes, Tiffany Lynch and Erick Vargas.

With high school graduations just around the corner, Upward Bound got a jump on the festivities this year when they held their senior recognition night.

Upward Bound is a program designed to support and aid high school students of income eligible families, helping them to succeed in pre-college and post-secondary education, by giving them an academic foundation in mathematics, sciences, composition, literacy and foreign languages.

This yearly event saw 11 graduates from both Dunkirk and Brocton High Schools as they begin their journeys into adulthood.

Graduates included Dylan T. Murphy of Brocton, who is also the salutatorian of his class, Alyshah M. Flores, Brisa K. Garcia, Michaela N. Geffert, Cameron L. Harper, Shaun P. Kelly, Cameron M. Kurek, Tiffany M. Lynch, Sulymar J. Ortiz, Angel M. Reyes all of Dunkirk and Erick Vargas, former Dunkirk High School Student.

Following dinner, each student was presented with certificates from Congressman Tom Reed and Assemblyman Andy Goodell’s offices as well as gifts, pins and honor cords.

Guest speaker, Dr. Christine Givner, SUNY Fredonia College of Education unfortunately didn’t make it, but that didn’t slow down festivities any as families watched their children honored.

As each student was celebrated, their words were read aloud by Program Director Loretta Slaton Torain.

“Don’t procrastinate your senior year,” wrote Dylan Murphy. “Listen to your mom, she always knows best,” Michaela Geffert shared. “The program will help you with future goals and help you prepare for the real world,” Cameron Harper offered. “Always challenge yourself, try your very best, have respect for the program and its staff,” said Tiffany Lynch.

Torain also offered her thanks to the program’s staff, the students themselves and especially the families that shape the program and keep it moving.

“We believe that parents are the success of this program,” Torain stated. “You understood the commitment you were making to the program and your child. Your answers have always been ‘yes’ and you have supported your children and the program for the past four years.”

After tears, laughs and congratulations were shared, photos taken and people thanked the students began to look forward to their futures, with a much brighter light than they had ever hoped for.