Area students earn high school diplomas

It was a weekend of celebration around Delaware County as local schools celebrated high school commencement ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. Andes, Roxbury and Margaretville Central schools held their commencement ceremonies on Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, respectively.
Roxbury Central School presented diplomas to 21 graduates Saturday morning, and welcomed back Class of 1966 alumnus Teddy Nesbitt to give the commencement address. Senior addresses were given by valedictorian Alisa Fersch and salutatorian Michelle Massell, and RCS Principal Thomas O’Brien presented a number of awards to members of the graduating class.
Margaretville Central presented 40 diplomas at Saturday’s commencement ceremony, which was relocated indoors halfway through due to the onset of rain. Following a senior class address by graduate Esteban Mendoza and a salutatory address by salutatorian Aja Jenkins, the MCS senior ensemble performed vocal selections, including a rendition of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” In addition, graduating senior Ryan Pesa performed an original composition on guitar with harmonica and vocal accompaniment. Graduating senior Jacqueline Atkin also performed a vocal solo, “What I Did For Love,” followed by Nevin Perez’s valedictory address. John Riedl, in his final act as Margaretville’s superintendent, presented awards to a number of graduates, after which Board of Education President Al Tanzer presented diplomas to the graduates.
“Doesn’t anyone ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?”
Cheyenne Tait used this Thornton Wilder quote from “Our Town,” a play studied during her sophomore English class at Andes Central School, to encourage her classmates to consider that time is precious during her valedictory address at Friday night’s graduation ceremony. Tait used the quote to urge the crowd to not take life for granted and allow it to become routine. “Try to realize every minute, our time here is way too short,” advised the Andes scholar.
Tait, headed to Princeton University this fall, was one of nine Andes seniors to turn their tassels as new graduates on Friday. The seniors received a penny for their thoughts from Superintendent John Bernhardt during his welcome. Starting with the date, Bernhardt used the attributes of a penny to draw attention to the significance of the Andes seniors’ graduation. “The year on the penny reads 2008, so you will always remember this time,” counseled Bernhardt. “2008 will become an anchor year for each of you. No matter where you go or what you do, from this moment forward, you will remember this year, this moment, as a milestone in your lives.”
Salutatorian Carrianne Fairbairn credited families, friends and teachers for helping round out and shape the Andes graduation products. “We are here today, sitting in front of you, to thank you all for helping us realize our potential, for helping us to get here today,” she said.
Paul Moore Jr., executive director of Citi Hope in Andes, took the crowd on an emotional roller coaster ride during his commencement address. Using a language his teenage graduates could appreciate, Moore used impersonations of famous celebrities and politicians to leave the crowd roaring with laughter during the opening minutes of his address, then turned the mood more somber and serious as he used personal experiences from his work in other parts of the globe to emphasize how important all children really are. One at a time, Moore spoke directly to each senior identifying the positive characteristics and traits they bring to the greater community, and ending each description with, “You are a blessing to us all.”
The Andes Senior Band played a rousing rendition of Deep Purple’s, “Smoke on the Water,” Bernhardt handed out numerous awards and scholarships, and the seniors presented roses to their parents before the big moment arrived when Board President John Hopkins presented the seniors with their diplomas and a personalized Bobble Head Graduation Statue.