OSWEGO, NY – After 13 years of school, it took 24 minutes Saturday to turn the OHS Class of 2017 into freshly minted graduates.
The first diploma was presented at 10:38 a.m. and the clock above the SUNY Oswego Campus Center’s ice rink clicked to 11:02 a.m. as the last graduate received their diploma.
Outside the Campus Center it was grey and overcast. Inside, however, a sea of blue reigned supreme.
“Are you excited? I know I am,” OHS Principal Patrick J. Wallace asked a bunch of seniors in the hallway outside the ice arena. “Any butterflies? It’s going to be a great day!”
“I’m excited. I thought this day’d never get here,” one senior replied.
“It got here a lot quicker than I thought it would,” his friend added.
Prior to the presenting of the diplomas a memorial tribute was offered for Michelle Wink, the longtime athletic trainer who passed away earlier this spring.
Members of the senior class of the Chamber Singers performed the Star Spangled Banner and Oswego’s Alma Mater.
As Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey began his remarks, he noticed that everyone was still standing. “Please, take a seat,” he said.
Thirty-eight years ago today, he said, he sat in (the graduates’) seat in Romney Fieldhouse as a member of the Class of 1980.
“From kindergarten through your senior year, many of those friendships will stay with you for a lifetime,” the member of the Class of 1980 told the Class of 2018. “Your lives will be filled with blessings, challenges and opportunities. Be resilient when times are tough.”
Regardless of the paths they choose in life, Dr. Goewey encouraged the Class of 2018 to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
“The Golden Rule is still the most important thing in your toolbox,” he said. “The next chapter of your life will be far more exciting that the one you’re closing.”
Aimee Callen, board of education president, encouraged the graduates to work hard and embrace change.
“Be excited about new things,” she said. “Spread your wings. This is your shot. Never give up.”
Valedictorian Eleanor Lisec recalled when she first “moved across the country to a small town in Upstate New York; one that I had never heard of.”
It was daunting, but she overcame the fears and found “it wasn’t so bad after all … and, here we are.”
She urged her classmates not to fear the (dark room) uncertainty and the unknown, she said.
“We don’t know what’s in front of us. We don’t know what the boundaries are,” she said. “We light our candles … go over and around our obstacles … we realize we have succeeded before and can do it again. With every experience our confidence grows bigger and brighter.”
“For as long as I can remember, we have been told to dream big, to reach for the stars, that no dream is too far out of our grasp,” Salutatorian Danielle DelConte said. “However, allowing yourself to be consumed by the pursuit of a big dream often means missing out on life as it is meant to be experienced. The gift of living involves being conscious of your choices in each step of your journey.”
Dream small, she told the Class of 2018.
“To dream small requires us to suppress the need to always look ahead. It feels very counterintuitive, especially at this stage in our lives. But, dreaming small is to consciously decide to value immediate moments as they occur, so you can glean the most from them,” she explained. “The pursuit of happiness is often mistaken as the idea that we will find a better life if we work harder, if we are more dedicated to achieving the things that we selfishly want to gain.”
The best things in life – laughter, smiles, memories, love, faith – these grand, but often underappreciated components of life, are not meant to be hoarded, she pointed out.
Their power is maximized when we decide consciously to give them away, she said.
“We will never be able to experience this moment (graduation) again, but have the power to choose how we will embrace the rest of the moments we are blessed with,” she said. “According to my sister, the little things in life often add up to something much greater.”