Under threat of rain, Marlboro held its 81st Commencement Exercise in the high school gym last Friday evening.
The Marlboro band ushered in 139 graduates to the traditional music of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ by Sir Edward Elgar.
Senior Class Vice President Trevor Keith Eichler welcomed everyone and pointed out that as graduation approached far too much attention was being given to “what’s next and we aren’t focusing or even enjoying what’s happening now and I think its time we start doing that. So lets enjoy today and not worry so much about tomorrow, it will come.” He ended with a quote from the third movie in the “Back to the Future” series when Doc tells Marty “Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”
Superintendent Michael Brooks said this Commencement ceremony does not just mark the passing of another school year “but actually the beginning of something special for the Class of 2017. The excitement of this evening is only overshadowed by the endless possibilities facing these students…For some the evening marks the beginning the next phase in your education, the beginning of a new career, the beginning of assuming the responsibilities of life.” He assured the parents that these new graduates “will grow in ways that you cannot imagine; foster that growth, feed it and don’t set any limits. They are prepared to meet our high standards [and] are truly great people. Celebrate that each and every day.”
Brooks said he is proud to know the Class of 2017.
“I want you to hear a message loud and clear; it’s the importance of being yourself. Make sure the decisions you make in life enhance you. Be better because of what you do for others, be better because of how you treat people…Today you begin to write your story, write it well…Choose to do great things, choose to be the best you can be. I know tonight’s exciting but tomorrow’s possibilities are endless.”
Board of Education President Bill Bell related a story on how actor Will Smith overcame his deep fear of skydiving.
“God places the best things on the other side of terror. I sincerely hope that each of you will take Will Smith’s advice and overcome whatever fears you face in life and experience the gifts that God has placed on the other side of terror,” he said.
Salutatorian Marc Melita said it was challenging to contain all of the “ups and downs and everything in-between” of his high school career within the confines of his brief address. He said in the first few weeks of high school “we began to get comfortable with our surroundings and from there greatness was destined, from athletics to drama to music and art, we have accomplished a great deal…Although our journeys to get to this milestone differ, we can rejoice in the satisfaction of knowing that we finally made it. A new chapter in our lives begins now…no matter what you decide to do in life, always remember to live in the moment.”
Valedictorian William Conti said graduation day “marks the end of an era for all of us. Today, we for one last time stand on these very grounds as Marlboro High School students but tomorrow we will be set off into the world onto our own individual journeys.” He said he and his classmates have learned an incredible amount and have made extraordinary memories along the way. “Without a doubt Marlboro High School has given us the tools to succeed…These teachers have truly prepared us for the real world through their gracious gifts of tough love. Every teacher I have had throughout my educational career has been nothing short of extraordinary. I think I’m speaking for all of my fellow graduates when I say that these teachers truly left a lasting impact on us and that we will truly, truly miss them.”
Conti quoted President John F. Kennedy, who said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” He urged his classmates not to dwell in the past. “Look to the future, look to what you can do, what you can achieve to make this world a better place.” Echoing that sentiment Conti ended with a quote from First Lady Michelle Obama – “Success is not about how much money you make, its about the difference you make in people’s lives.”
The traditional Cane Ceremony was held as it has since 1935. It was passed from the present graduating class, represented by Senior Class President Connor Kortright to Junior Class President Shannon Camuso, symbolizing a passing of the torch to the Class of 2018. Initially the color of the tassel was that of the graduating class but since 1972 the school district’s colors of black and orange have been used. In 1976, the year of our nation’s bicentennial, the tassel was red, white and blue.
In his address High School Principal Ryan Lawler calculated that Marlboro High School has graduated approximately 8,300 students in the past 81 years with the Class of 2017 adding to a long list of accomplishments. This year he said the class has amassed 1,884 college credits while in high school, completed 136 advanced placement courses, 30 have received technical credentials through Orange-Ulster BOCES, 32 are members of the National Honor Society, they have produced numerous art portfolios and received “countless academic awards.” Many students have performed in school concerts and have earned musical distinction at NYSSMA. Others found their calling in fall and spring theater productions and have joined many school clubs and after school activities. Lawler said the Class of 2017 has distinguished themselves on the field, winning sectionals and state titles “and have learned countless lessons from your participation in our athletic programs.”
Lawler told the graduates that their attitude and willingness to work with others is critically important.
“The world is a complicated place with lots of distracting noise; with social media and a deluge of information available at our fingertips it’s easy to get lost. We often place superficial labels on each other. Take the time to get to know others and seek out their strengths. The solutions to our problems lie in our diversity and in listening to each other.” Lawler paraphrased the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley [1849-1903] “You are the master of your fate, you are the captain of your soul.”
Lawler concluded, “Know as you leave Marlboro your challenge is to be daring, confident and inclusive of others. No matter where your path leads you in life, it will likely be your willingness to keep your head up in difficult times [and] to work with others that will allow you to find success.”
Superintendent Brooks accepted the Class of 2017, stating that “On this day, June 24, 2017, I proudly declare you graduates of Marlboro Central High School.”
After each of the graduates received their diplomas, the Class of 2017 recessed to the ‘Grand March’ from Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.
By Mark Reynolds