It was an evening full of memories, laughter, and a few tears as Pawling High School held the sixty-eighth commencement exercises on Friday, June 22. The school gymnasium was packed with friends and family who watched the eighty-nine graduates receive their diplomas and begin the next chapter of their lives.
The graduates would file into the gymnasium to the traditional music of Pomp and Circumstance, followed by the Pawling High School Chorus performing the National Anthem and a rendition of the PHS Alma Mater. Principal Helen Callan provided opening remarks before turning the ceremony over to Abigail Reid who delivered the Salutatory Address.
“Honestly, I feel as though I’m in no position to give advice, because I’m only seventeen, and I’m still learning about life alongside all of you,” said Reid. “However, I will share a metaphor that I thought of a few days ago: It is to embrace hiccups. Medically, a hiccup is an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm. (Mine are particularly loud. I actually believe that I taught myself this skill in elementary school so I could get a break and go out in the hall.) But hiccups are also minor setbacks. Like hiccups, mistakes can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Yet they are only temporary, and eventually lead to personal growth. One of the most important lessons I have learned is not to be afraid of failure. If you make a mistake, it’s how you get back on your feet and improve for the next time that matters. Like trying everything under the sun to get rid of hiccups, you must be persistent. Learn to overcome your obstacles and turn them into achievements.” Reid also urged her fellow graduates to always remember their roots. “When we’re all out in the world making a difference and being elite in our own ways, we must not forget our humble beginnings at Pawling High School. The memories and lessons learned in Pawling will always be a part of us.”
Following the Salutatory Address, the Pawling High School Chorus performed Give Us Hope, followed by the presentation of the senior class gift. Kelly Koerner presented the gift from the Class of 2018, which came in the form of a contribution to the fund for an electronic sign for the Pawling Central School District.
Next, Elizabeth Barrick delivered her Valedictory Address. “Even though we’ve all had different experiences, we’re all still bonded by learning, growing, and more realistically, surviving together,” said Barrick. “We’ve all gone through similar trials and tribulations. While we are all different and have had different experiences here, our time here is connected by the small quirks that make Pawling High School unique. And nowhere else would I be surrounded by such amazing students. You are some of the brightest and funniest young adults that I had the pleasure of spending the last four years with, and I wish you all the best. High school may end today, but its impact will be everlasting. I’m thankful that Pawling High School, the teachers, and all of you are the ones that made me who I am today.”
PCSD Superintendent William Ward then gave the Graduation Certification, officially graduating the Pawling High School Class of 2018. The students received their diplomas as cheers and applause echoed through the gymnasium. After each graduate had finally walked the stage, Pawling High School Principal Helen Callan provided closing remarks: “Each one of you is an individual with different experiences, but you’re all connected by the fact that you grew together here at Pawling High School. This school and this community is like a family. Sometimes we laugh together, and sometimes we cry. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we don’t. We celebrate each other’s successes, and we offer a helping hand when we face challenges. Tonight, you are surrounded by the people who have been the most instrumental in your journey up to this point. After tonight, you are moving into the next phase of your life. As you explore, grow, dream and become the people that you are meant to be, remember that you take the best wishes, hopes, and congratulations of your family here at Pawling High School. We wish you nothing but the best.”