As the graduates filed into the SUNY Cortland Park Alumni Center, the orchestra played the traditional commencement march “Pomp and Circumstance.” Parents, relatives, brothers and sisters looked on as the Class of 2018 took their seats. The ceremony opened with a welcome by Principal Joe Mack, followed by the Senior Class Officers leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the Cortland Alma Mater. Class of 2018 salutatorian, Tristan Stevens, spoke next and gave a piece of advice to the rows of graduates seated below him when he stated that “learning from your mistakes only makes you stronger.” Janet Griffin, School Board President spoke next, encouraging students “to try new things, be opened minded, explore and think positive thoughts.”
Superintendent Hoose followed Janet Griffin and said, “with your diploma comes responsibility, you are charged with making your community and life better.” Superintendent Hoose also congratulated the 12 students that also graduated from TC3 with an Associates Degree. After Superintendent Hoose’s speech, John Zarcone started the special recognitions. Kathleen Starr was a big winner, as she took home three awards which included the Dr. Arthur B. Shedd Education Scholarship, Andrea F. Czimmer Scholarship, and Christine Gregory Community Spirit Scholarship.
The Class of 2018 valedictorian, Jonathon Frederick, also won several awards, which included the Dr. Wayne Cotie Scholarship and the F. S. Barry PTO Award. Jeffrey Guido, Ed Porter and Shawn Whittaker presented the diplomas. Each students name was called as they crossed the stage. Many of the students gave John Zarcone a big hug. After the last student was called, Valedictorian Jonathon Frederick and Salutatorian Tristan Stevens told students to move their tassel, signifying the official graduation of the class of 2018.
After the ceremony, two students, John Blanchard and Kelsey Gibbons were able to speak with us to discuss their feelings about their time at Cortland High School and commencement.
John Blanchard, Senior captain of the basketball team, cited Coach Jeremy Milligan as an important teacher that has influenced him. He said, “Ever since ninth grade, Mr. Milligan has always pushed me to be a better person, student and athlete.” When asked if John had any advice for the incoming class of freshmen to enter the high school ranks next year he said, “Stay in the moment and do not get stressed out.” John is the first member of his family to graduate from high school. He said, “I am very excited to walk across the stage, as I know it is something my parents both wanted since they did not finish high school. Next year I will be a first generation college student studying at TC3 and playing basketball.”
Kelsey Gibbons, another member of the Class of 2018, is attending Coker College in South Carolina to study Chemistry and play field hockey. She said, “I am ready to start the next chapter of my life.” Kelsey was involved in a lot of different clubs and sports during her time at Cortland High School. She was a member of National Honor Society, the field hockey team, and volunteered for loaves and fishes. She said, “My mom, dad, brother and grandparents are here tonight to watch me graduate. I am especially thankful for Mr. Canestaro and Mrs. Whittaker who both motivated me to do better and pushed me to be a better student.” Kelsey Gibbons also took home the Rose and Sam Joseph Memorial Scholarship.
We congratulate the Class of 2018 and wish them the best of luck in their future.