With diplomas in hand, the encouragement to live their dreams, and a reminder of their “star power,” the members of the Saugerties High School Class of 2015 celebrated their big moment on Saturday morning, June 27, becoming the school’s 119th graduating class.
Wearing caps decorated with everything from helium balloons to symbols of their career dreams, the 236 graduates said goodbye to high school with bright smiles that more than compensated for the gray skies overhead.
“The tutorial is over. The game has finally begun,” said class secretary Matthew Urrutia.
The graduates received advice and encouragement from seven of their classmates, their principal, Thomas Averill, Superintendent Seth Turner, and Board of Education member Angie Minew.
“Stop and look around you. You will never get this gathering of people together ever again,” Turner told the seniors before asking them to shake hands with the person next to them as a sign of peace. He urged them be kind and find the strength within themselves to overcome adversity.
“Be brave enough to push yourself,” Turner said, then quoted professional wrestler “Cactus Jack” Mick Foley in reminding the students to “never let anyone define success for you.”
The students who spoke wrapped their advice in metaphors from science to the arts.
Class President Phoebe Defino explained that there are many dying galaxies in the solar system that can be brought back to life by the explosion of a single star.
“There’s not that much difference between you and the stars,” Defino told her classmates. “Every one of you possesses the capability to bring the world back to life with your talents, your ingenuity, and your star power.”
Vice-president Marissa Hogan took inspiration for her speech from a creative writing assignment about a dying pen. She explained that, unlike pencils, which come with the power to erase mistakes and be sharpened when they get dull, pens “must be bold, sharp, and tenacious. We are pens, really. We are not wimpy pencils. We are pens, ready to start our journey.”
Salutatorian Audrey Trossen said that graduating and “teetering on the threshold of adulthood” made her feel much like she did when she started preschool. “I’m not good at saying goodbye,” she said, but added, “No goodbye is goodbye forever. You will never lose these people and you will never lose this place.” She urged the seniors to return to their memories of high school later on in life to “feel better in a world that will feel far too sharp and too cold.”
John Senko, the social director for the Class of 2015, said that as they look back, he and his fellow students “will not measure time in periods, semesters or years but in friendships.”
Of the 236 graduates, 90 percent received Regents diplomas or Advance Designation. Forty percent of the class maintained an average of 85 or better and the class as a whole received many thousands of dollars in scholarships. Sixty-one members of the class also graduated from the Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center, among them the Career & Technical Center Valedictorian, Lucas Hufnagel.