It was a whirlwind few days for the Class of 2016 graduates from Saugerties High School. They celebrated with a baccalaureate service at the Saugerties United Methodist Church on June 23 and graduated on June 25 followed by celebration parties at parents’, relatives’ and friends’ homes.
At the service, Methodist Church pastor Tony Mecca told the graduates and their families that getting a degree is still a big deal. “When the United States lags behind so many other countries in students getting degrees, it’s a big deal,” he said. It was also a day of new beginnings, he told the grads.
Many of today’s problems, said school board president Robert Thomann, were because “people have lost their faith that previously had gotten them through tough times.”
Thomann talked about the two murders that recently happened in Saugerties, and a teen from Ferry Street beating up his parents. “Faith is something we inherently have … but people have lost that faith,” Thomann said. “Some students have dropped out because they lost their faith to make it to the end .… God will get you through the tough times.”
Mecca urged the students to continue to learn, to remain “relevant” to the world and to their friends. “Don’t think of high school as the end, think of it as the beginning,” Mecca advised.
“The challenges you faced in high school will continue,” senior class president Nick Perpetua told his fellow graduates during the graduation ceremonies. “And it’s important to be willing to take risks.”
“During your years at Saugerties High School you’ve made friends, and those friends will be there through these challenges to help you,” Perpetua added. He concluded with a quote from Muhammad Ali, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
“Never let anyone define success for you,” superintendent of schools Seth Turner told the graduates. “And be kind to one another,” he said, quoting Ellen DeGeneres.