Class of 2012 turns its focus to the future (with photo galleries)

More than 300 new Niskayuna High School graduates celebrated Thursday night in air-conditioned Proct

Niskayuna High School graduates could be anywhere next year, senior class president Kayla Kristin Treanor told them Thursday evening.

They could be in the workforce. They could be on a college campus. Or they could be in the military.

Wherever they’ll be, though, she said, they’ll still be linked.

“There is something we all have in common,” Treanor told them. “This is the place that we call home.

“Let the securities and comfort of our connections lead us down the unknown road that we begin as we take our next step of the journey.”

Treanor welcomed more than 300 new Niskayuna High School graduates to the 2012 commencement ceremony in air-conditioned Proctors in downtown Schenectady. Earlier in the day, more than 300 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake graduates walked across the sweltering stage of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

At Niskayuna’s ceremony, graduates heard from district Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio.

“Tonight’s celebration is all about you,” Salvaggio said, “our seniors-turned-graduates, the very people who have helped make Niskayuna school an outstanding place to learn, work and play.”

As the graduates looked forward, they also looked back. Treanor urged them to remember the moments that resonated with them — the victories and the defeats.

She led her classmates in remembering a classmate who is no longer with them. Donny C. Dudley, a teen with a passion for tennis and a member of the class of 2012, was killed in a car accident in Pennsylvania in August, just prior to what would have been his senior year.

“Donny made us realize how special life truly is,” Treanor said, “and that we should live our lives to the fullest, just the way he had always done. This lesson and the joy that he brought to our lives will remain in our hearts forever.”

Class secretary Elyssa Marion Stewart and class historian Rachel Augusta Meachem later presented the class gift, a donation to the Donny Dudley Foundation.

Students gathered before the ceremony in their silver and red gowns and parents snapped pictures. Steve Taszycki was there for his daughter Marysha’s graduation, along with her mother, brother, grandmother and aunt.

“It’s amazing because it’s our first-born child,” Steve Taszycki said, “so the whole family’s here.”

Marysha Taszycki is on her way to Hudson Valley Community College to study business and cosmetology. First, though, she had to go get her diploma.

“It’s just crazy, I’m ready to walk across the stage and start a new life,” she said, adding a short time later, “I’m not even ready to walk.”

Whether she or her parents were ready or not, it was time.

“Oh,” she said, “We have to go …”

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake

At the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake class of 2012 received its diplomas as family members sweated in the heat, even under the shade of the SPAC amphitheater, fanning themselves with programs.

Craig Maughan, class vice president, will miss his friends when he leaves for Brigham Young University, he said as the class lined up to march into the amphitheater.

“We’ll all be doing different things, but now’s a time when we can all be together one last time before we take our separate paths,” said Maughan, 17, of Ballston. He plans to major in electrical engineering and then go to law school to study patent law.

Salutatorian Aquilla Chase got to achieve two goals on Thursday.

“Today we get to cross off another accomplishment from our list,” she said during her commencement speech. But she had an additional dream that she aimed to reach: To dance ballet on the SPAC stage.

So, wearing pointe shoes, she walked away from the podium and danced a solo from “The Talisman” choreographed by Victor Marius Alphonse Petipa. Her classmates and the audience thundered with applause.

Valedictorian Sarah Read also spoke, as well as Maughan and the class president, Morgan Seber.

Categories: Schenectady County

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