OSWEGO, NY â€“ At 10:50 a.m. Saturday, they were still Oswego High School seniors.
Just 25 minutes later, they were nearly 300 freshly-minted OHS alumni.
Graduation day 2010 was a day to reflect on the past 13 years, and more importantly, look toward the future.
â€œThe events of an average day donâ€™t stand out in our memory. But, something out of the ordinary may as well have a flashing neon sign in our minds,â€ Lindsay Johnson, OHS class of 2010 valedictorian, told her fellow graduates.
Their four years together in high school were filled with many such special memories, she added.
â€œIt was a timeline of memorable classroom scenes, sporting events, practices, concerts, school musicals, rehearsals, clubs, field trips, assemblies, proms, homecomings and time with friends,â€ she said. â€œAnd though the words to Mr. Canaleâ€™s songs may get fuzzy and the many lessons that were sat through will be coated with fog, the classmates you were next to and the teachers that taught you more than they had to will remain clear. In 30 years, an average high school day will be much harder to recall; but the experiences we had may seem like yesterday.â€
Members of the OHS class of 2010 faced their final school event with mixed emotions.
â€œSure, Iâ€™m excited about this,â€ said graduate Jonathon Woodward. â€œItâ€™s my last day for this (school). But itâ€™s also kind of sad because I wonâ€™t be seeing everyone all the time like I used to.â€
Jeremy Gosek, president of the class of 2010, will also miss the people he met during his high school career.
â€œIâ€™m pretty sure I was aware that this day would eventually come. But this isnâ€™t exactly quite how I imagined it, really,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s kind of weird. You build something up in your mind and then you finally get there and you are like, â€˜whoa, this is it.â€™â€
â€œIâ€™m going to miss the people the most, the people that Iâ€™ve grown close to the last four years,â€ the class president continued. â€œThe teachers, staff, my fellow students, Iâ€™ll miss them all. Thatâ€™s probably the toughest part of graduating.â€
For Corey King, it was a day of double celebrations.
â€œWhen I got the (school year) calendar, I noticed it first thing, graduation was scheduled right on my birthday,â€ he said.
He celebrated his birthday the previous day; graduation parties were on his calendar for after the ceremony.
He said he had mixed emotions about graduation.
â€œThere are some things Iâ€™m kind of happy about. But, Iâ€™m a musician and Iâ€™ve been in the band for years. Leaving the high school band, really itâ€™s going to be tough,â€ he said. â€œThatâ€™s where I spent a lot of my time.â€
He will be marching with the Buccaneers in the Independence Celebration Parade on July 4 and later that evening he will perform with the Jazz Band prior to the fireworks display.
â€œIâ€™m a soloist. That will be fun. Itâ€™s a nice way to finish up my time with the band,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s mostly the music thing that Iâ€™ll miss. There a lot of other stuff, too. There are a lot of good memories. But, music, thatâ€™s where I like to be.â€
â€œCould you ever have possibly imagined what it feels like to finally be sitting in these chairs here today? I can honestly say that I am still in shock. I never thought it was possible for 13 years of my life to have gone by so fast,â€ said Sarah Skinner, OHS class of 2010 salutatorian. â€œI still remember getting ready for my kindergarten graduation. At my elementary school, good old St. Paulâ€™s, we had a kindergarten circus for our ceremony, and I was unfortunately, a circus clown.â€
Clearly, itâ€™s a little bit different this time, and not just because Iâ€™m no longer dressed in a paper bag decorated with crayon and glitter, she laughed.
â€œInstead of moving to a new classroom, weâ€™re going to be headed to an entirely new place: a new school, a new job, a new city, a new state,â€ she told her classmates. â€œRather than lose a naptime, weâ€™re gaining freedom, responsibility, and most importantly, weâ€™re gaining our own choice.â€
It may not hit them for some time still, Skinner said.
â€œBut, after we pass through these doors today, our lives will have changed. Maybe not at first, as we still have our summer, but by late August, weâ€™ll notice, when instead of buying a few new outfits and some notebooks, weâ€™re purchasing our own textbooks and packing all of our belongings to move into a new dorm room,â€ she said.
Then will come the more difficult changes – when it comes time to say goodbye to people that theyâ€™ve known for years, or are the closest to, whether it be family or friends, boyfriends, girl friends, best friends.
â€œIâ€™ve already started with some of the goodbyes at the end of the school year. It was hard enough to say goodbye to people that I only saw in my classes, or teachers that Iâ€™ve grown close to and who have helped me immensely over these last four years,â€ she continued. â€œBut, I feel that weâ€™re all ready for a change, some of us more so than others.â€
Superintendent Bill Crist said he expected great things from the members of the class of 2010.
Itâ€™s time for them to move on with a new chapter of their lives, adding there are ready to face the challenges that await them.
â€œIt is your turn to begin creating your own future and setting your own life goals,â€ he told the graduates. â€œThe only thing that stands between you and what you want in life is the will to try.â€
He told the graduates that, as they make their way in life, â€œMake yourself proud of who you are.â€
School board president Sam Tripp echoed those sentiments.
â€œSuccess is measured in different ways,â€ he said.
To be a success in life, the students will have to take responsibility for themselves, he added.
â€œThe bottom line is you will get out of life only what you personally put into it,â€ he said. â€œStrive to be the very best that you can be.â€
High school might have been the best part of your life thus far, maybe it was the worst or somewhere in between, the salutatorian noted.
â€œBut, we all knew that it would come to an end at some point,â€ she said. â€œHopefully, you have made the best of it while it lasted.â€
She told her classmates to put everything they have into anything they attempt.
â€œIt will always be worth the effort in the end,â€ she said. â€œAnd sometimes, youâ€™ll surprise yourself with the results.â€
In his address to the class, Gosek advised them â€œto always follow your hearts.â€
â€œHigh school was great for providing us with chances to participate in something. But, the next part of our lives will be the first part that truly becomes what we make of it,â€ Johnson said.
She urged her class not to become complacent. Go out into the world and do great things, she challenged.
â€œAt face value, we are a bunch of kids that simply finished their high school education. But, but beyond that we are a group of talented and award winning students, athletes, musicians, artists, writers, dancers and individuals that have made the most of what we have encountered so far,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m sure the majority of us would like to believe that we havenâ€™t just had the best four years of our lives; but, without action that is what they may become. There is a whole new world open to us. All of the opportunities in the world are useless if we just watch them come and go. I canâ€™t stand here and advise you on something that I have yet to experience. All I can leave you with is: make it good!â€