ELIZABETHTOWN - Donned in the traditional green and gold, 26 members of the class of 2011 walked across the stage and accepted their diplomas during the 73rd commencement of the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School June 24.
Proud parents filled the ELCS auditorium and cameras flashed as the graduates walked in two-by-two to the sounds of "Pomp and Circumstance" expertly played by the ELCS Jazz Band.
The evening ceremony was capped by a presentation of flowers to each graduate from a special person in their lives, followed by awards and scholarships. Prior to that, class valedictorian Seth Beaton and salutatorian Alex Andrade addressed the crowd and fellow classmates.
Andrade was the first to speak, urging his classmates not to fear failure, and to follow path that leads to happiness. Quoting Winston Churchill, he said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal."
"Success is not the end, but the beginning," Andrade said. "With the satisfaction from being successful comes confidence, which opens even more doors for you. Behind those doors lies untold treasures."
Beaton encouraged his classmates to be who they want to be in life, not "what others demand of you."
"Laugh. Sing. Cry. Be crazy. Be yourself. Don't be afraid to have fun just because others would look at you strangely. You can't look dignified when you're having fun. What matters is your opinion of yourself, not the opinion of others," Beaton said.
Beaton concluded by saying life is an adventure, and urged his classmates to approach it in that regard.
"Be yourself, and don't ever let anyone prevent you from doing what you believe is right. Life is only worth living if you live it. Go out there and do that. Otherwise you'll waste many precious moments," he said.
In the absence of ELCS Board of Education President Robert Wagner, diplomas were handed out by Vice President Brett Sicola.