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‘Major milestone’ noted for Fredonia grads

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford Families and parents arrive -- and pose for pictures -- during the Class of 2022 graduation for Fredonia High School

It was a sea of smiles and selfies Sunday afternoon at SUNY Fredonia’s King Concert Hall as Fredonia High School’s Class of 2022 graduated.

The 89 seniors got a traditional procession, with “Pomp and Circumstance” played on the concert hall organ, after two years of COVID-19 related disruptions.

Soon after the event began, on the prompting of High School Principal Darren Paschke, the students turned around and applauded the sizable audience for all of their support.

“Graduation day is not only a major milestone on our life timeline,” class vice president and salutatorian Erin Schrantz said in her welcome. “It symbolizes a major change in our lives and invites us to embrace that change with open arms. It is so important to take a second and acknowledge all we have accomplished individually and collectively. So, we made it.”

Schrantz then exhorted her classmates to make new, post-high school goals and enjoy one last summer together.

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford Families and parents arrive -- and pose for pictures -- during the Class of 2022 graduation for Fredonia High School

During her salutatorian address, she said the class had to persist through pandemic-related adversity. It could have been easy to focus on the activities they lost, “but we as a class decided that pushing was the only option.”

She added, “If you do let your setbacks hold you down and keep you there, you’ll never move forward on the pathway to success.”

Valedictorian EvaRose Weinke said it was a goal of hers since she was 4 to follow in the footsteps of her mother, Ripley High School’s 1993 valedictorian.

“Don’t be afraid to take a chance or make a choice. Deep down, you know what you need to do,” she said.

“When you know deep inside what you need to do, don’t let fear stop you. Don’t let the uncertainty of the future stop you. You will end up where you need to be if you follow your gut and believe in yourself,” Weinke added.

Fredonia High Class of 2006 graduate Dr. Sarah DiPalma, a pediatrician, offered the main commencement address.

“Feel proud, proud of yourself for accomplishing this goal. Feel happy, you earned this moment. Feel extraordinary, not everyone gets to this point,” she said.

DiPalma described eight life lessons she has learned since graduation:

1. High school friends can be lifelong friends.

2. Go after your dreams.

3. Remember you will hit speed bumps along the way.

4. Draw your own conclusions on people based on your own interactions with them, not others’ opinions.

5. Be kind to everyone, you are not better than anyone else.

6. Embrace different cultures and people.

7. Find cellphone-free moments in life, such as riding a jet ski or traveling.

8. Popsicles and stickers make the world go round.

Lauren Sercu, senior class president, made a short speech to introduce the class before they took the stage to get their diplomas. Student Council President Fred Gullo offered farewell remarks.

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