The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

June 26, 2013

Area grads tell classes to embrace the future

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — High school seniors across the area entered a new phase of their lives this past Friday and Saturday as local districts held commencement exercises.

In Albion, Michael Patterson’s valedictory speech to his classmates talked about high school as a way for a class to learn and grow together without necessarily being together. He mentioned how he and his classmates learned throughout the past four years in a variety of different classes, though not necessarily at the same time.

“So, an appropriate question right now is: how do we stay together, or even come more together?” he asked. With the world becoming increasingly technologically dependent, Patterson suggested to his classmates that keeping up with each other will become easier and easier.

“A lot of us have smartphones, all of us at least have dumbphones, and there’s always going to be the Internet and social media to keep us connected,” Patterson said.

But while keeping strong roots at home is important, Lyndonville valedictorian Joy Follman said the Class of 2013 should be excited about “opportunities and experiences that will come our way.”

She said, “We will meet new friends, see new places, and explore new pathways in life. It is what we have prepared for and I am confident that this room holds future leaders in every available field.”

Follman said the typical countdown to graduation included a “feeling of nostalgia and anticipation for the unknown.” However, the events during those countdowns - “the moments” - are just as memorable.

Royalton-Hartland salutatorian Thomas Bragg also talked about time, and how facing the future is something everyone must do despite its unpredictability.

“We don’t know what we’re going to be doing in 10 years, even five years,” he said. “We don’t know who we’ll be or where we’ll be. Unlike high school, the future is full of surprises. There are no guidelines or rules to follow.”

Bragg added the future can be scary, but it is a good kind of scary because “the unknown is exciting and liberating.”

At Medina’s commencement, Jessica Rosenbeck’s valedictory speech also touched on the end of the high school era, as she and her classmates will no longer be around “people we’ve been around our entire lives.”

In quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosenbeck talked about how people who dream will succeed in the future.

“There’s no telling where life will take us, but there is one thing I hope everyone on stage and in the audience will do, and that is to dream big,” she said. 

Rosenbeck said there will be inevitable stumbling along the way to achieving any goal set, but she added the key is to get up after stumbling.

She stated, “Never give up in the face of adversity, keep strong, always believe in yourself, and never let anyone bring you down.”

Then, summing up graduation with a time-tested quote from beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss, Rosenbeck told the Class of 2013, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”