ELDRED, NY — Capping off a year of “firsts” for the district and the graduating seniors, 43 students smiled behind their masks as they marched to the stage to receive their diplomas …
ELDRED, NY — Capping off a year of “firsts” for the district and the graduating seniors, 43 students smiled behind their masks as they marched to the stage to receive their diplomas and stepped into the next chapter of their lives.
The ceremony was held at the Yulan ball field on the evening of June 26. Onlookers were directed to park their cars, some festively decorated with streamers and balloons in school colors, in a grid pattern to maintain social distancing. Despite the unusual circumstances, there was a decidedly festive air to the occasion under the bright sky and setting sun.
The evening was emceed by Kim Gueren, the high school guidance counselor. Senior Paige Spradling opened the program singing the National Anthem.
Extending a welcome to all was Elijah McGrail, Salutatorian, who declared the day to be one of “celebration, congratulations and an endless sea of ‘thank you’s.’” After thanking teachers and staff both individually and as a whole, McGrail said, “You have set us up for success,” and challenged his classmates to “use what we have learned to create an atmosphere of growth for others.”
Superintendent John Morgano thanked Highland Supervisor Jeff Haas and the Yulan Fire Department for their assistance in making the outdoor event possible. He declared that the graduating class has the power to enact change, reminding them that a society is judged by how it treats its most needy and least protected and challenged them to make a difference. He also challenged them to put down the phone.
Alumnus Bradley Diuguid, a professor at SUNY-Sullivan, challenged the graduates to do everything in their power to overcome adversity and to find the source of their individual grit to fuel them through whatever lies ahead.
Valedictorian Brenna Knibbs recounted the accomplishments of the class as a whole and as individuals. She stated that, due to social distancing, though the graduates were six feet apart, they stand as one and that the small size of their class was a privilege that allowed them to grow up more empathetic and connected to others.
The final speaker of the evening was principal Traci Ferreira who stated that, for the graduating class, this was their 2,352nd day in school. Among other words of advice, she challenged the students to make their beds every day because, even if nothing else goes right the rest of the day, coming home to a made bed sets one up for a better tomorrow. She closed with the admonitions, “This is a new adventure. Take risks. Make mistakes. Learn something new every day but remember to make your bed and persevere.”
The diplomas were handed out by Morgano, BOE president Scott Hallock and the teacher chosen by the senior class for the honor, Marikate Oset.
For a story about Eldred’s Class of 2000 reaching out to 2020’s graduating class, see www.bit.ly/eldred2000to2020.