Day Began with Baccalaureate Breakfast
By Mary Fox
Forty-one seniors from Ellicottville Central School class of 2012 received high school diplomas on June 21. The graduates received their due of congratulations and words of wisdom during a baccalaureate breakfast as well as the graduation ceremony that evening. These graduates have all attended Ellicottville Central School since at least ninth grade and 55 percent of their parents also graduated from ECS.
The day began with at 8:30 a.m. with graduates and their families attending an ecumenical baccalaureate service at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Clergy participating in the spiritual service of celebration were from three Ellicottville churches: Fr. Ron Mierzwa from Holy Name of Mary Roman Catholic Church, Rev. Deborah Packard from the United Church of Ellicottville and Pastor William L. Kay from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
Messages from Mark Ward, superintendent of Ellicottville Central School; Robert Miller, high school principal; and James Wiley, president of the school board, focused on ways the past has prepared them for the future. All stressed living the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Ward said, “Life is not going to go the way you want it to. There is no magic formula. It’s how you handle it.”
Miller challenged the graduates to lead by example, live the skills that seem to be slipping away from Americans: respect, dignity, and treating people as you want to be treated.
Wiley advised the graduates to “work hard to the best of you ability. Be a person people want to be around.”
Members of the class of 2012 sang two musical selections, “You Raise Me Up” and “Until We Meet Again.” After the service, the graduates and their families enjoyed a hot breakfast prepared with donations given by local churches and Tops Market.
At 7 p.m., a packed gymnasium watched and listened as words of wisdom, awards and diplomas were handed out to the class of 2012. Video screens in the gym and the cafeteria made it possible for everyone to see the ceremonies.
Ward commended the class of 2012 as being the first class where all students entering by the ninth grade have graduated. On an interesting note, he said that 23 students have one parent and nine have both parents who went to Ellicottville Central School.
“We’ve enjoyed your children,” said Ward to the parents.
Thirteen National Honor Society Scholarships were given out, as well as 67 awards and scholarships, along with many more received outside of school. Not only academic, athletic and musical achievements, but also outstanding leadership, commitment, community service and integrity were emphasized.
Shannon Scott was the recipient of the New York State Military Service Recognition Scholarship given to a student with a parent who has died while on active duty in the military. It covers full tuition at a SUNY school, room and board, and incidentals for four years.
Courtney Wilson received the Unified Student Assistance (USA) Recognition Scholarship from Jamestown Community College for a two-year, full-time tuition scholarship.
Gifts given by the class of 2012 were an $800 donation to the Ronald McDonald House, from which two families benefited this past year, and $1,000 was given to the school for the purchase of a “real” camera.
“Live the dreams and don’t let anyone get in the way of it,” said Salutatorian Ashley Golley, using Walt Disney as an example of one who chose to follow his dream. “Some don’t think they can shoot for the stars, but if we take the risk we all have the potential, so strive for your dreams.” Golley plans to attend SUNY Brockport with her major still undecided. She is the daughter of Debbie and John Golley.
Valedictorian Kaitlyn Riethmiller stressed that “it’s not the destination but the journey that gets us there.” She is the daughter of Denise and Daniel Riethmiller and plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford where she will major in biology and play for the women’s soccer team.
Diplomas were handed out by Wiley, after which the class of 2012 was invited to turn the tassels on their graduation caps to the other side. A cheer went up and hats were thrown into the air as proud parents stood by witnessing this bittersweet moment as another milestone is met in their children’s lives.