The Groton community celebrated another graduating class of seniors on June 29 in the high school gym when 54 students received diplomas from Superintendent Margo Martin and Board of Education President Sophia Darling.
High School Principal Billie Downs welcomed everyone in attendance at the ceremony before handing the microphone over to senior class president Maggy Ossit to deliver the opening speech. Ossit, who will be attending SUNY Oneonta and majoring in english education, compared her and her classmate’s time at the school district as a chapter in each of their books and spoke about the familial bond developed over the past decade or so.
“We ended up becoming a family, whether we liked it or not,” Ossit said. “Our classmates were the people we leaned on outside of our home; the people we shared secrets with; the people we shared our story with.”
She urged her classmates to take some time to consider their high school experiences.
“I would like us to slow life down for a second,” she said. “Look around at the people next to you. Look around at your teachers and your parents in the audience. Reflect on your time here.”
“Think about suiting up for your last athletic event with your teammates who became part of your family, feeling the warmth of the stage lights as you perform for the last time in a Groton musical, feeling a sense of pride displaying your artwork for the community to see. Think about those small moments shared with the people inside this gymnasium, because this could very well be the last time we all sit here together.”
Following Ossit’s speech, Diaz Nino, the class’s valedictorian, spoke in front of the crowd, addressing the importance of doing what makes one happy to his classmates.
“The point of graduation is that everything is our choice,” Nino said. “Now that you’ve had time to find your space, the world is free to go there and succeed.”
Nino has already earned his Associate’s Degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College and will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology and majoring in environmental engineering.
Zoe Barclay, the class’s salutatorian, delivered a speech following Nino, sharing her thoughts on what it means for herself and the rest of her classmates to be graduating from high school.
“For one, it means everything feels a bit more real,” Barclay said. “The future is no longer being decided by the person across the room. It’s standing in front of my face, staring directly at me. There’s promise of freedom, independence … and a whole lot of change.”
“Life is perpetual change. … There isn’t a set number of miles to run or pages to read. No one has marked a course for a written story. So, make your own choices, live your own life and embrace changes, like this one.”
Barclay will be attending SUNY Albany and is undecided as to what she will major in.
After Barclay’s speech, the senior high school chorus, under the conduction of music teacher Laura White, sang “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan, followed by a brief speech from Martin. Martin recommended that the class not cast aside one’s time living in Groton.
“Before you press that accelerator, eager to make your mark on the world, may I suggest that you put this location permanently into your GPS,” Martin said. “It is after all the place of your roots. It is the place where you all got your start. So as you get into your cars and pull out to drive, don’t forget to take the time to look into your rearview mirror at what’s now behind you. We are always going to be there in silent support of all the great things you are about to take on. You will always have a place here at the class of 2019. May you never forget where you came from.”
Before handing out the diplomas, Downs offered a piece of advice to the graduating class, that being the significance of finding one’s happiness through expressing kindness.
“What I want to stress to you today is that kindness isn’t just a simple act,” Downs said. “It’s an attitude. It’s a lifestyle. And most important, it’s a choice. So, choose to be kind, choose to be grateful, and happiness will follow you wherever you go.”