Livingston Manor gained 30 alumni with the flip of the tassels on Saturday, June 25.
The ceremony, held in the new gym, was a time to honor the Class of 2022's past and to look to their future.
"Today, seniors, as you sit on these risers in front of your family and friends, take a moment to reflect on how they have helped guide you up into this point," Principal Shirlee Davis said. "Today you will begin a future outside the walls of LMCS."
A message of challenge, growth and change was seen throughout the ceremony.
"Time seems to have passed quickly over our four years of high school. We faced many
challenges throughout the years," Valedictorian Uriel Cortes Hidalgo said.
The pandemic was one of the largest.
The challenge for the graduates now, he said, is to their passion and live up to their potential.
"In our class, I have seen potential in everyone. As long as we put in the efforts to
accomplish what we want to achieve, I believe we will be successful," he said.
"It's OK to have no idea on what you want to do next," Superintendent John Evans said. "Allow your interests and passions to guide your journey. Only you know what will truly make you happy."
The path will be different for everyone, Salutatorian Osei Helper said.
"For some of us that means going into an even higher education, the military, straight into the workforce, or any other future you venture into. This is your time to choose what you want to do for yourself," he added.
And that path will be much different than the one followed in school.
"Stepping out of this building brings us foot first into another," Helper said. "A much larger structure, filled with the brightest lights and the blackest corners, every shade of gray, all the colors in the rainbow, and the vast spectrum of darkness."
"I hope you all leave here with excitement and a healthy dose of fear," he continued. "I know I will."
Not letting that fear control your decisions is important, according to guest speaker Cathryn Lenkiewicz. "Most graduation speeches tell you how to be successful," the 1992 graduate of LMCS said. "I'm going to talk about how to fail."
"I cannot guarantee your success, but I can almost certainly guarantee that you will fail," she said. "But it is what you do after you fail that determines the true outcome."
She offered what she said is her best piece of advice: "The one thing people say over and over again: I stayed too long," she said, "That fear of failure, of rejection, often keeps us from making that hard decision we know we need to make."
"When your gut tells you it is time to go ... go!," she said. "This is not failure, it is empowerment."
The future is what one makes of it, graduation speakers said.
"When I sat up on these risers many many years ago, I looked forward to the possibilities that were out there for me," Davis said, “and never dreamed I would be here today at this podium as a middle school/high school principal would be sending my own seniors off to the world."
"Make your life something that YOU can be proud of. Think about what drives you, what makes your mind race, what makes your blood boil," Helper said in his speech. "Nobody is sure of the future, not even those in power, not even those who have lived a century, but you can help shape it. You have the ability to fight for whatever change you want to see in our society. You just have to have the initiative to do so."
"Follow your heart," Evans told the graduates. "Don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. And when you screw up, own it."
Graduation "is a time for packing away memories, like a treasure, that you will look back at tomorrow with fondness," Davis said.
"Today is a beginning," she continued, "a time to look forward, a time to set new goals, to dream new dreams, test your wings and see what lies beyond."
Even though the students will be leaving the school, the school will not leave them, Davis said.
"Here at LMCS, we will still be here for guidance if you need us."
To parents, Lenkiewicz said: "Let them fail ... you can't stop them" but "all you can do is be there when it happens."
"Graduates, congratulations on this success,” she said "Enjoy it, embrace it, and when things don't go as well as they are going today, remember, continue on, find your peace, don't be afraid to fail if it means a better path will open for you... and most important call your parents."
The full ceremony can be seen at https://boxcast.tv/view/lmcs-h...