Elk Lake Graduates 102
For the 102 seniors who received diplomas on June 11 at the Elk Lake School, the day was not just an ending, but also a beginning. With a little help from Mother Nature, neither too hot nor too cold, the graduation ceremony went smoothly.
Recurring themes were woven through speeches given by Emily Mowry, 2011 Class President (and president for six years), Valedictorian Brad Moore and Salutatorian Nicholas Marbaker.
The “big yellow school bus” was a notable duplication of each talk while seniors described their rise to the top of the ladder. From their lowly beginning as a kindergarten student, they finally made it as the big fish in the pond as seniors. Also mentioned several times was the fact that as youngsters, they had to walk in single file in the halls, until they got their freedom when they entered junior and senior high school. They talked about their memories that should last them a lifetime, with Marbaker saying that “the days that you made memories with your best friends here were probably the best days of your life.”
Moore said they were members “of the greatest class ever,” and that was seconded by Board President Chuck Place when he told them he didn’t “believe we’ve ever had a better class.” Recognition for all those who impacted their lives was given. Moore said, “First, we should recognize our parents,” adding with humor, “my dad requested that he be thanked at least three times: so I thank my dad, thank my mom, thank my dad, thank my peers, and last but not least, thank my dad.”
Place said that at the end of the ceremony, the first thing they should do is give their parents a “minimum three second hug. Anything less (than three seconds) is a do-over.”
Classmates were also recognized as being friends who helped each other through some bad times. “Many of us aided each other throughout the school in different ways,” said Moore. “We were there for each other at the moment of desperation when we needed help before an exam or assistance with a major project.” He also recognized the teachers as “the best faculty...not only in educating the students, but influencing them to become something greater than we could have ever imagined.” Moore quoted his trig teacher, Mr. Phillips, who had told the class “strive only to be good and you will fall short at average, strive for excellence and you will fall short at good, but strive for perfection and you will fall short at excellence.”
In looking to the future, Marbaker said, “The accomplishments we have made have given us the tools to succeed in the future.” Mowry said they were “beginning a new stage of our lives,” but that they should “always remember today’s victory.”
Mrs. Terry Blaisure, Class Advisor, was presented with a bouquet by Mowry, saying she “had done so much for our class...we would just like to say thank you for everything you’ve done.” Blaisure said it was “an honor and privilege to be part of the village,” referring to “It takes a village...” She said the Class of 2011 had shown the true Warrior spirit.
High School Principal Ken Cuomo outlined where the students would be heading. Forty-two graduates were going to four-year colleges, with 24 attending two-year or technical schools. Three would go into farming, 20 into the workforce, 12 were undecided and four will be entering the military.
Cuomo presented three awards. Distinguished awards went to Moore and Marbaker, while a principal’s award went to Billy Guenter for his “effective and efficient” ability to track Cuomo with a radio, asking regularly, “Where are you and who are you with?”
Memories and relationships, gifted and talented, athletic accomplishments, craftsmen, artists, leadership and character were all acknowledged by Cuomo. He especially congratulated those who have had a rough time through school, saying he was proud that they made it.
Dr. Thom Kotch, chemistry teacher, was chosen by the class to give a special address. He said he was impressed with the harmony between students, teachers and administrators. His own career had taken many twists and turns from a noted physicist to a chef to a rekindled interest in teaching. “I will not forget your names, where you sat in class, your personalities.” It was an encounter in life that will never be repeated, he said. Things that have gotten him through life should be prefaced with two ideas: “You are an adult, and don’t sweat the small stuff.” He had six rules to help them navigate their journey.
1. Don’t put yourself in a situation that causes stress. Don’t tweet pics.
2. Life is like a Chinese buffet...try different things.
3. Happiness is a moral obligation...or, at least, don’t inflict unhappiness on others.
4. Do what you love.
5. Value people and relationships.
And, finally, 6. Do everything with a clear head.
He strongly advised that the seniors thank their parents, as they can’t repay them...the interest would be too much...and ended his talk with, “Welcome to adulthood.”