Oswego High School Class of 2018 Told: ‘Dream Small’

Claudia Chetney is congratulated by BOE president Aimee Callen as her father (board member) Brian Chetney waits to present her with her diploma.

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.

2018 Oswego High School Graduation https://youtu.be/tia_0sC922M

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.”


  1. I’m not sure if I totally agree 100% with this “Dream Small” philosophy or I’m just misunderstanding it.

    Certainly, I do agree that the smaller things in life are most often the most important and fullfilling, but that alone shouldn’t keep anyone from aspiring to do their best at something, or trying to obtain a goal. Being consumed by anything to the point of not having time for “other things” is certainly something to avoid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. You simply have to live in reality at the same time as doing so. There isn’t anything wrong with looking forward to something, as long as you keep in mind that it may never happen,… so just enjoy everything else good along the way in case it doesn’t pan out as expected, or eventually turns into a nighmare. It’s kind of like “The Wizard of OZ” if you think about it.

  2. Wizard, if your going to criticize, at least use your real name. If you read the statement with an open mind you would have been able to understand the true meaning. Far too many minds are lost with the reach for the stars and dream big idea. The setting of a bar so high that it is unattainable leads to a feeling of failure. Setting a reachable goal-dreaming small-will lead to more and bigger accomplishments in life. Take a back seat on this one Wizard. I thought the speech was outstanding.

  3. The dream small is an analogy which refers to building a solid secure foundation stone by stone as you create your castle of success. I’m quite sure this clever speech went over many heads of all ages. Great speech.

  4. Steve, thank you to you and others that offer community coverage, work while others are enjoying, including freezing in November outside for the Oswego Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony to the OHS Graduation Saturday and more. Great photos and the story help preserve once in a lifetime memories. Also most people are not aware how frequently reporters are harassed about being there, even when covering a public event.

  5. re: FRANK….If I wanted to criticize it, I would have. In case you didn’t notice, I actually agreed with most of it, but simply commented that there isn’t anything inherintly wrong with dreaming big either if one so desires. And unlike yourself, having an “open mind” would not only be receptive to different viewpoints, but welcome and discuss them as well. So apparently, you don’t have one.

    As for “feelings of failure”, not everyone gets a trophy. There’s ups and downs all through life, from not getting a job interview to not being selected, to getting hired and then getting fired. And what’s the point in talking about “bigger accompolishments in life” if you can’t set your sights on them??? Apparently you have never heard the expression “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” or ever read the book “The Little Train that Could”. BTW, it’s “you’re”, not “your”, just sayin’.

    re: Bruno…Speaking of analogies, here’s one for you. Just because I happen to think that a poured concrete wall can be used as a foundation to create a dream home as well as concrete blocks doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done. It simply depends on where you live, how fast you want to build it, and what the building codes are.

    re: BEN….I’ve been saving your little put- down until last, because it ties in perfectly with my making comment to this story and your snide little remark.
    There’s tons of High School and college students online who make all sorts of comments disagreeing with someone in the news, along with much worse offensive things said as well. To think that a high school student’s “opinion” somehow can’t be challenged, disagreed with, commented on, discussed, or picked apart as a matter of fair game seems quite illogical. Now get back to “class”, before you lose any more of it.

  6. Mr. Wizard my comment was not a put down on yours in fact I agreed with all of it. As for your 2nd comment you made my day dishing it right back to the PC police who use these put down tactics in their comments to try & shut up any & all opinions that differ from their BORG collective mantra. Have a great day Mr. Wizard!!! :)

  7. Thank’s Bruno, it made my day hearing that from you!

    The speech was a good speech for its intended audience of students and teachers who would typically be all ears listening to another viewpoint that runs against the typical status-quo, or norm. This “out with the old and into the new” type of thinking would naturally play well to them as a majority group of perhaps likeminded thinkers. My main issue with it was that it basically “condemned dreaming big outright” rather than embracing both schools of thought as a possible way to achievement, or success. (Most notably, the part about “achieving the things that we selfishly want to gain”). It made it sound like anyone who dreams big is somehow selfish for doing so. Wanting to gain lifelong security through being successfull isn’t “a selfish thing” but rather somewhat of a necessity as I see it, but not entirely.

    Furthermore, I can certainly agree with, and understand, that “living in the moment” is something valuable, and should be enjoyed to it’s fullest extent when doing so. However, it would be nice to think that while I’m relaxing at a picnic doing exactly that, I wouldn’t be condemned for making conversation by expressing my desire for newer, more reliable transportation and how I intend to get it without the “selfish stigma” being attached to it for doing so, or the fact that I could have had another hard boiled egg if I hadn’t mentioned it.

    Since the small dream approach apparently “requires” us to suppress such wishfull thinking, it would appear to be placing limitations upon things that aren’t feelings or emotion based that are considered more important. My view is that you can dream big (or small) and still share those more important things IF you make time for them, which is important to do so. Neither views are one size fits all, or should be. However, I can tell you this…it was a much better speech than I would have been able to make at that age. For that, much credit is due.

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