Keene Valley Members of the Keene Central School Class of 2012 said goodbye to their school family June 23, knowing that they will always have a friend there.
“The one word that I would use to describe Keene is family,” valedictorian Anna Kowanko said. “Every student upon entering is personally supplied with 400 parents and grandparents, 160 siblings to argue with, and a community full of passionate aunts and uncles who all know you. This is the family that has shaped us and encouraged us.”
“I do know that I can always find a helping hand and someone to cheer me up at Keene Central School,” salutatorian Emma Gothner said. “No matter how far along in life we are, we all know that we can come back here, to these same great people and same relationships we have formed with them and have our dreams re-inspired... This is where my dreams were built.”
Commencement speaker Tiffani McDonough, a graduate of Keene, said that her look at the world was formed while a student there.
“Growing up in a small town fueled in me an eager curiosity about the world outside this little valley,” McDonough said. “Here at KCS and within the community, I was lucky to find mentors who helped nurture my curiosity. I was also blessed to have a wonderful family that encouraged me to seek new experiences, but also taught me that the key to success was to work very hard.”
McDonough also told the students to “follow their bliss.”
“As you take this leap forward, you may not know where you will land, but trust that following your bliss will lead you to exactly where you are meant to be,” she said. “It was following my bliss, my passion for stories, that lead me to medicine. I am a child neurologist. I care for children and families dealing with many different kinds of brain disease: epilepsy, learning problems, traumatic brain injury, autism. It can be very sad, but it is invariably rewarding. As a researcher of the brain, I am helping to write the story of how we care for kids with these problems: developing ways to think about and treat disease and new standards of medical care. Sometimes we help to change the course of their stories. Every day is hard work but I look at it as my privilege. I have one of the best jobs in the world.”
Jill Lobdell contributed to this story.