ESSEX COUNTY - Graduates across Essex County celebrated their graduation ceremonies June 26 and 27. This year's graduates leave with meaningful memories from their school days, and a desire to take what they've learned and use it toward achieving their goals.
Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School
The Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School Class of 2009 understand that learning and growth come from rising out of difficult times.
In his speech, salutatorian Logan Morris encouraged his classmates to learn from their experiences and to be willing to step outside their comfort zones.
"Your comfort zone will expand with every mistake and experience you have," said Morris. "Sure, you'll make a fool of yourself here and there... maybe even lose a little pride, but who honestly doesn't like the individual who isn't afraid to mess up or make a fool of themselves, anyway? It's an affable characteristic, sometimes even envied by some."
Valedictorian Rebekah White's speech focused on achieving dreams in the midst of adversity.
"Everybody has a dream, be it large or small," she said. "For some of us, getting by from day to day is a fantasy in itself."
White gave a heartwarming tribute to Nathan Hammond, an ELCS student who died in 2007 after a lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis. Hammond would have graduated this year.
"He worked hard in our class with dreams of becoming an EMT. He was such a hard worker and displayed this trait by starting his own small engine repair business," said White. "Beyond that, he was a nice person and hardly self-centered, which he easily could have been because of his sickness. He had a character that he never lost, regardless of what people said or how he felt."
"We're here now, standing on this stage, looking at our family and friends and wondering what we've gotten ourselves into," White added. "After this summer, our lives will be changed and we'll be completely reliant on everything we've learned during our days at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School. Thank God we've been guided this far."