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Tearful goodbyes fill Sherman’s 2016 graduation

June 29, 2016
By David Prenatt - , Westfield Republican

Members of the Class of 2016 said their tearful good-byes to faculty, staff, class advisors, and one another at the 134th commencement ceremony of Sherman Central School on Friday, June 24th.

Principal Michael Ginestre welcomed the graduates and their guests. He spoke to the graduates of their legacy. "Legacy really means the actions you took that leave a lasting impact on the persons or places you've left behind," he told the graduates.

Ginestre said the class of 2016 didn't come to school every day thinking about their legacy. "I will remember them for being outstanding students, and even better people. That is their legacy," he concluded.

Article Photos

Photos by David Prenatt
Above: Sherman Central School District class of 2016 moves their tassels as a sign of having graduated.
At right: Sherman Valedictorian Bridget Yaw speaks to the class of 2016.

This year's commencement address was delivered by Chautauqua County District Attorney and 1996 graduate of Sherman Central School Patrick Swanson. He joked that that commencement addresses are crushingly dull and he was going to resist the temptation of lecturing them.

Swanson told the departing students that they were born to be players in this extraordinary blessing called life. Sherman has prepared them not only with an education but with real values, he said.

"Reject the conventional wisdom that success is only for the rich and privileged," Swanson said. "You will succeed if you accept the fact that the values you have received here have prepared you for success as much as anyone in the United States.

Above all, Swanson said, graduates must remember that real success in life comes from helping others, especially children. "You must try to remember the children of this world. Teach children that they are never entitled but they are always loved," he said. "No exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down to lift another up,"

Swanson told the group that they have graduated from a school that "does more with less," He noted that Sherman has been ranked the number one overachieving school district in Western New York by Buffalo Business First for nine straight years.

"I'll let you in on a little secret," Swanson said. "You have something others from bigger school districts have never experienced. You have a community that cares about your school."

Class Valedictorian, Bridget Yaw, daughter of Dennis and Kathy Sweatman, told her classmates that she hoped that none of them would ever "really grow up" to the extent that their lives would be only about financial success. She reminded her fellow graduates of their senior class trip to Baltimore and Washington, DC.

She said: "We found ourselves singing, You're Gonna Miss This, You're Gonna Want This Back." Yaw said. She noted that as they sang, it became clear what 'this' actually was. "Somewhere between grades 1 and 12, we learned to love each other," she told everyone in the auditorium. "It was in this town and in this particular group that we've taken comfort," she said.

Yaw told her companions that they would move on from this school and this town. She said "Life will go on and it will be a bittersweet transition." In lieu of offering her personal recommendations to the group, Yaw said she used social media to obtain life advice from each of the departing students. She shared many of the messages of "life advice" with the graduates.

Class Salutatorian, Morgan Motherwell, daughter of Brad Motherwell and Pam Kindler, used the movie, Finding Nemo, as an analogy for their future journey through life. She reminded the group of the obstacles that Marlin and Dory faced in their search for Nemo.

"Just keep going, keep trying harder and harder," she told the class of 2016. She told them not to focus all their energy on reaching their ultimate goals.

"Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination," said Motherwell. "Let go of old mistakes and hardships and start something new. Don't let high school be the end of your journey. Don't stop finding yourself."

Class Historian Katelyn Tenpas, daughter of Bruce and Tammy Tenpas, began her address with the words "Dear younger us." She told her classmates "Don't be afraid to start something new, change directions, or take a different path." Tenpas quoted Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

In an unforeseen departure from the program, Senior Class President Morgan Motherwell and Vice-president Daisy Gibbons presented gifts to their class advisors, Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Zarpentine, and to Guidance Counselor, Mr. Minton.

Motherwell and Gibbons then presented gift bags to Ginestre and departing Superintendent Kaine Kelly. They gave Kelly, who is leaving Sherman to assume the superintendent's position at Randolph, a shirt that says CATS EAT BIRDS, since Kelly is leaving the Sherman wildcats and joining the Randolph Cardinals.

Members of the graduating class sang what had become their class song: You're Gonna Miss This, which repeats the message "You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around. You may not know it now, but you're gonna miss this."

Diplomas were presented by Superintendent Kaine Kelly and Board of Education Vice President Gary DeLellis. Principal Ginestre read each senior's name, and, in the school's tradition, a personal message from a parent, sibling or teacher was delivered to the graduate over the public address system.

Senior Class President Morgan Motherwell led her class in the moving of the tassels from left to right. Superintendent Kelly offered final remarks, saying, "They're great kids. They really are." He congratulated the new alumni and said "Walk out into this world with your eyes and minds wide open."



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