Sherman Holds 135th Commencement Ceremony

Pictured, from left: State Trooper and Sherman native Sgt. William Phelps delivered the commencement address to the Sherman graduation class of 2017; Sherman Class of 2017 Valedictorian Kathryn Pacy; Sherman Central School Superintendent Michael Ginestre; and Sherman Central School Principal Bryna Booth. Photos by Dave Prenatt

SHERMAN — “Keep the doors open,” NY State Police Sergeant William Phelps advised the 45 graduating seniors at Sherman Central School District’s 135th annual commencement ceremony on Friday.

Phelps, a native of Sherman, urged the class of 2017 to be willing to adapt and take different paths when necessary. “Very few people know for certain what they want to be, when they’re in your position,” Phelps said. “Everybody has a different path or journey to get where they belong. Most have to live a little to find out what they will become.”

Phelps graduated from Sherman Central School and Jamestown Community College. He became a State Trooper in 2002; in 2015, he was promoted to Sergeant. He was transferred to the Jamestown barracks in 2016.

“I lived in Sherman for the first 19 years of my life and I really feel like this is a very special place to grow up,” Phelps said.

Phelps told the students when he was “running around the halls of Sherman,” he never expected to become a state trooper. Even though he faced several challenges, his life turned out better because he was open to change, he said.

“If I had stuck to what I thought was a career plan for me, I would not be as happy as I am now, Phelps said. He told the students that they will experience failure in life, but it is those failures that will help them to succeed.

Phelps also told the graduates that discipline is hard, but “discipline, character, and integrity are required for a successful life,” he said. “You are not a victim … too many young people want to deflect responsibility when things don’t go their way.”

Phelps concluded with a final bit of advice for the class of 2017: “Don’t tell your problems to other people. Eighty percent don’t care and the other 20 percent are glad you have them.”

Class Valedictorian Kathryn Pacy used an analogy from Pablo Picasso to encourage her classmates.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” she said, quoting Picasso. Using this metaphor, Pacy likened the events of daily life to the colors on a palette used by a painter. However, the struggles of daily life can make even the most colorful person become weary, she said.

“How do we bounce back when our pallets became dried and cracked?” Pacy asked her classmates. “Paint with the colors that appeal to you the most and believe that you can wash the dust of everyday life away.”

Class Historian Abigail Cole reminded her classmates of the many adventures that they shared.

“Twelve years ago, we were in little caps and gowns graduating from kindergarten,” she said. “I could go on for days with the stories of the times that made us laugh … Here we are now, this is the last of the last.”

Sherman Superintendent Michael Ginestre applauded the class of 2017’s tendency to push the boundaries.

“This class made us all better educators. They kept us on our toes and made us realize that education has never been and never will be a one size fits all proposition,” he said.

Ginestre said this class earned the respect of the teachers and staff by their willingness to talk and to compromise.

“A win isn’t always getting everything you want. The best situation is when everyone wins,” Ginestre said. “You were able to develop a never-give-up attitude in these hallways.”

Ginestre also paid tribute to long-time board of education member Gary DeLellis, who recently passed away.

“I know his mark will be left on Sherman for years to come,” he said.

Mrs. Colleen Meeder addressed the graduates on behalf of the Board of Education. She told the students that many of the parents “are not ready for this to be over,” and she cited many ways that the students benefitted from attending a unique, small school.

“It is the parents and teachers encouraging and affirming you through all the years that have brought you to this day,” Meeder said. She also commended the class of 2017 on being “the most integrated Clymer-Sherman-Panama group to date.”

Sherman Principal Bryna Booth referred to the class of 2017 as “tenacious and fortuitous.”

“We have loved each and every one of you for every moment of every day since you entered our world,” she told the graduates.

Diplomas were presented by Superintendent Michael Ginestre and Board of Education member Colleen Meeder. Principal Bryna Booth read each senior’s name, and, in the school’s tradition, a personal message from a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, teacher or coach, was delivered to the graduate over the public address system.

Senior Class President Bailey Renee Freligh led her class in the moving of the tassels from left to right, and each graduate was presented with a flower as he or she left the stage as a new alumni of Sherman Central School.