FULTON, NY – Parents, family members, friends, teachers, school staff and administrators packed the Fulton Community Ice Arena on Saturday, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the G. Ray Bodley graduating class of 2015.
A full house welcomed the young, lively group of students as they prepared to walk the stage and accept their diplomas.
The students nervously filled a tent behind the ice arena as they lined themselves to walk accordingly.
Senior triplets, Carly, Maggie and Hope Williams felt the nerves, but to different extents.
“I was nervous, but now I’m just excited!” said Carly Williams.
“I went to bed nervous, I woke up nervous and I’m still nervous” said Hope Williams.
“I’m more nervous I’m going to trip or something,” said Maggie Williams. “But I’m pretty excited!”
The sisters will be attending Cayuga Community College together in the fall after graduating, although it wasn’t exactly an intentional plan.
“Well, none of us really know what we want to do yet, so it just kind of happened that way,” said Maggie Williams.
While the Williams sisters were nervous, senior Kimberly Perry was excited for her awaiting present.
“I’m a little nervous, but I’m pretty excited because I’m getting a puppy from my parents,” said Perry.
Many students creatively decorated their caps in unique designs or phrases.
Many used popular quotes from movies, songs and celebrities, others displayed their choice of college or some drew their own designs.
G. Ray Bodley High School Principal Donna Parkhurst welcomed the graduating class and presented the senior select chorus to kick off the commencement ceremonies with the Star Spangled Banner.
Vice Principal Will Greene took an emotional stand on the stage to speak to give the opening thoughts.
“I was asked by quite a few of you at Senior Dinner Dance to speak at your graduation. I must say, what an honor, in my last year of education, I get to speak to you,” said Greene.
He used his speech to drive home three main points to the senior class.
First, “life isn’t fair. So don’t expect it to be” Greene said.
Second, “education is the answer,” he added. Noting that nothing in his life or his career would be possible without the education he had been provided and worked for.
And lastly, using a quote from Albert Einstein, Greene emphasized the impact of not relying on technology. “If you think about all of your best memories, they come from interacting with others, not from text messages” he said.
Greene warmly concluded with a song line from a popular movie, “I’ve had the time of my life, and I owe it all to you.”
And with that, he wished luck and congratulations to the graduating class.
Superintendent of Schools William Lynch ensured the students that they are well prepared for the next phase of their life and used a personal favorite poem, The Starfish Poem, to remind the students that they can always make a difference.
Salutatorian Jacob Belcher used a personal experience as a cross-country runner going from consistent last place finishes to qualifying for sectionals as an example to his fellow classmates that hard work pays off.
“Success is up to the individual,” Belcher said, reminding his peers that no one else can set the standard for their idea of success.
Valedictorian, MaKenna Cealie used her life experience as well to set examples for her fellow graduates.
After a heartfelt thank you to her family, Cealie explained that she was adopted from China at 15 months old. She used this to show her classmates that bearing in mind three basic things will help them find success, just as she had.
First, she encouraged her friends to work hard and persevere, in doing so they can do more than they’d ever thought possible.
Second, she inspired her peers to take pride in where they come from.
“I have always felt accepted by my peers and my community,” said Cealie. “I think this says a lot about Fulton. No matter where we go or what we do, this will always be the place we grew up, and it will always have a place in my heart.”
Third, she reminded students to take nothing for granted.
“I have no idea where I would be right now if I didn’t get adopted. And that made me appreciate all the opportunities I have had for an education and in life,” she said.
With those three reminders, Cealie wished her classmates luck and concluded with, “We did it!”
Parkhurst recognized the 59 high honor graduates, any students that have achieved a four-year average of 89.5 or above for 7.5 semesters, as well as 35 honor graduates, any students that have achieved a four-year average of 84.5 or above for 7.5 semesters.
The students were then announced, along with their accomplishments as they walked across the stage and accepted their high school diploma.
Parents and family members cheered and the students excitedly sent beach balls into the air as they awaited their turn to walk.
And with that, Valedictorian Cealie led her graduating classmates as they moved their tassels from right to left and the G. Ray Bodley Class of 2015 had officially graduated.