OSWEGO, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Though it may have seemed like an eternity ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ the last leg of the OHS Class of 2008’s high school career was the shortest.
Nur Syaheera Zainal was the last member of the class to receive a diploma as the clock on the huge overhead scoreboard clicked to 11:24 a.m.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Josh Donoghue said as he prepared for the ceremony. “There’s always room for improvement. But, I think I did pretty well (in high school). I hope to do better in college.”
“It’s a bittersweet experience,” Kristina Licatese admitted. “I’m excited to move along, it’s a rite of passage, but it’s going to be tough to see everybody go.”
Ryan King said he was feeling happy, “for the most part.”
“This is your day!” Bill Crist, assistant superintendent for personnel and human resources, told the graduates.
Graduation may be the end of one chapter of their lives, but it is also the start of a new one, Crist said. It is the stepping off point to the next set of challenges, he continued.
“Make your own way and be your own person,” Maggie Tiballi, school board president, told the graduates.
Bryan Lazarski, Class of 1998, told the new grads “Life is full of surprises. Prepare to be surprised.”
Very little stays the same over 10 years, he added, advising the graduates to embrace change, “enjoy the surprises, and go get ’em!”
In her salutatory address, Alyssa Collins told her classmates, “WeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve established such strong connections that they will always be there no matter how far apart we are or how long it has been. Whether we see each other a few days, months, or years from now, weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll remember all the good times weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve shared with our classmates and be able to laugh about them.”
ThereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a lot to look back and reminiscence about, she observed.
“WeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve all been connected in one way or another for 13 years. For most of us, these connections will seem to be gone in a few short months as everyone goes on their own paths. As we all sit here in our caps and gowns anticipating walking across this stage, think about all the good times weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve shared together. From being the out of place freshmen to the dreaded biology class, winning the powder-puff football game two years in a row to the senior trip,” she said. “Just think, this is the last time the entire Class of 2008 will be gathered together and from here on out, our buddy system that weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve known for 13 years will be gone.”
“WeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re on our own. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s up to us to make the responsible decisions, find new buddies, and establish new connections,” she said.
However, she added that, “The memories connecting us to the friends we’ve made may fade, but they’ll never disappear. Good luck to all of you, my buddies. Have a great life and do well. And whenever, wherever you are, always feel that little thread that connects and holds us together.”
Valedictorian Catherine DiVita continued the connections theme.
“As I am looking at you ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ just as you are all looking at me and making me nervous ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ I am imagining the many different kinds of lives you will shape for yourselves in the next few years. I am realizing how different we all have become,” she told her classmates. “However, I am also realizing the special connection we all now share. As members of the Class of 2008, we have become universally joined by bonds of success, failure, wins, losses, triumph, rejection, and shared experiences as Oswego Buccaneers. We have been united by our four trying, yet rewarding years at Oswego High School.”
“But, as different as we are, we will always have one thing in common: no matter where we go or what we do, we will always have these roots, these memories, these connections with one another,” she said.
“At such a critical time in history, we are at point in our lives when we will be depended on to shape the future. We will soon have the chance to develop the economy, politics, healthcare, business, education, everything and anything we may pursue,” she said. “But for today, be inspiredÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦not by me, not by our role models, but by who we have become. Every one of us has the ability to thrive in the real world, whether we go to college, join the armed forces, or become a part of the workforce. No matter into which avenue we channel our time and energy, great things can and will be achieved.”
The Class of 2008 faces different challenges than their parents did when they graduated ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ but it is also faced with many opportunities, observed Gabriele Rumrill.
“As president of your senior class, I stand before you today realizing we all go out into a world much different than our parents did on their graduation day. As a class, we have an enormous amount of talent and resources present, right here, in the campus center today,” Rumrill said. “However, we face so many obstacles our parents didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t have to – such as an unstable economy, high fuel prices, and our current Middle Eastern focus aimed at abolishing terrorism. But in spite of these challenges I believe we can all go out and make a difference in our world and help change things for future generations. It is ultimately up to us to not just exist and get by, but rather go out and really take all we have been given over the last four years and use it to make our corner of the world a little better.”
After graduation the class will start their own lives, she said.
“For the first time, we will be on our own, without our parents and friends to support us. So, it will be up to us if we make it or not in this new, frightening world of adult responsibility and accountability,” she pointed out. “To be successful in this new environment, we must use the skills we have obtained in our educational journey, here in the Oswego City School District. WeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve learned here that there is no substitute for plain old hard work. There are no magic pills that hand us our dreams on a silver platter. We know we can be successful by utilizing the tools our school has given us.”
“Some of you have been together since elementary school, others for just a few years. Either way today will be your last opportunity to be together as a class ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ cherish the moment ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ believe me – you will never forget it,” said Peter Myles, OHS executive principal.
Their diploma removes them from Oswego High School, the principal said, adding, “the road which ends for you today leads to a new road, to places you have never been, to people you have never met, to challenges waiting for your solutions, to answers you are still waiting to find. The diploma that you have earned signifies the beginning of a new life experience.”
Wherever they go, whatever it is they do, Myles told the graduates to “believe in yourself, be confident, and you will do just fine. Believe in yourself and be the best you can be, know you have tried your hardest so you never have to look back with regrets.”
“Today, I ask you to be tolerant to the faults of others, but not your own. Recognize that the only power you truly have is the power over yourself, the moral and ethical power over your own actions,” DiVita charged her classmates. “We cannot change every aspect of the world that needs changing. But, we have a responsibility to make a difference in our particular corner. Most importantly, in the future, may we be known for our integrity and honesty as well as our many accomplishments.”