Photos by Mookie Forcella, Robert Ford and Ali Zacker Gale
What do a book series about a teen wizard and a 1970s soft rock classic about our inability to stop time have in common? Both loomed large in the Saugerties High School Class of 2013 graduation ceremony, held under a beautiful blue sky on the morning of Saturday, June 22.
The song was “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, performed at the ceremony by the school choir. The book series was J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, which played such an important role in the lives of the graduates that they chose a quote from the character Dumbledore, Harry’s headmaster and friend, to grace the cover of the ceremony’s program: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
A student speaker also quoted Dumbledore in her speech, saying, “even Dumbledore knew ‘it does not do to dwell on dreams … and forget to dream.’”
Speakers hit notes familiar to all graduation ceremonies, urging students to take stock of their lives so far, but not to get hung up on nostalgia; to move forward, charting a future with confidence and integrity.
Class President Eric Beresheim urged students to “define your own success,” and not let others do it for them.
Class Salutatorian Dhruv Patel told grads to embrace change. “My fellow graduates have the potential to accomplish great things, but they will have to work hard, just as they have in high school,” he said. “What will change, however, is that we will have to find our own path and forge new relationships distant from the support of the teachers here at SHS.
“We have shared some great memories, but it is finally time to look towards our future,” he added.
Valedictorian Antonino Laquidara said that he was supposed to “impart my wisdom onto everybody here,” as part of his speech. He admitted, “Unfortunately for all of you, I have no such wisdom. For you see, all my knowledge has come from others.”
He talked about the people he has met during his high school years that have influenced him, such as Dr. Kutler, an infectious-disease doctor at Benedictine Hospital who told him, “the most important thing in life is to find a mentor, and be a mentor.”
Laquidara spoke about those teachers who taught him things that he didn’t know, such as his PE teachers, “who taught me what dying feels like when they had me run a mile; or maybe the lesson was that I’m not healthy.”
Thomas Ham, Board of Education vice president, concluded remarks by calling on students “to never be average.”
Members of the Saugerties High School Class of 2013 were born in 1994 and 1995. The class was just settling into first grade when the towers fell, and so it will be one of the last old enough to remember the event that changed America forever.