“I feel like I’m going to cry,” Samantha Baurle, 18, said. “I’m that happy.”
Baurle was one of 118 students graduating from Fonda-Fultonville High School on Saturday afternoon. After the ceremonies ended, students and family members flooded outside, posing for pictures with one another and hugging friends while soaking in the moment.
New graduate Cory Lais, 18, said she loved her high school experience. She said she’d miss her friends but was anxious to start her academic career at Marist College. She has already made up her mind to major in finance.
“That’s set in stone,” she said, smiling.
The graduation ceremony took place in the school auditorium. The graduating seniors sat on stage as speakers implored them to keep learning and to keep working hard in life.
At the beginning of the ceremony, as the students walked onto the stage, family members and friends in the audience whipped out their cameras, smartphones and tablets to record the moment before them.
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, and U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, were two of the speakers at the event. Tkaczyk told the graduating class to follow their hearts in what they want to do in life.
“Do not be afraid of failing,” she said.
She cited the late poet and writer Maya Angelou as a source of inspiration and someone to emulate. Tkaczyk said Angelou faced hardships but continued to find the joy in life.
Following your passion and believing in yourself was a common theme. Honor student Gianna Mancini mentioned visionaries such as Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein who persevered despite the skepticism and low expectations they received from others.
After the ceremony Pamela Congdon, 18, stood in the shade as her mother, Brenda, took pictures of her.Pamela plans to study human services at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Her mother explained Pamela had struggled in high school, but sought help from her older brother and sister to improve her grades.
Pamela had some advice for other students who struggle: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class,” she said.
New graduate Aidan Simonds, 17, who plans to studying mass communications at SUNY Oneonta, also had some advice for students entering high school: “It’s going to be a lot of work,” he said, “but it’ll be worth it in the end.”