Chautauqua Lake Central School Celebrates 21st Commencement Ceremony

P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

CHAUTAUQUA — The Chautauqua Lake Central School Auditorium was filled with cheers, applause and relief Thursday night. With the seats filled with family, friends and loved ones all together, those in attendance watched the stage as the ones they came to see graduate did just that. The class of 2017 from Chautauqua Lake did it; they graduated.

“For the last 13 years each of you were building towards earning a high school diploma,” Secondary School Principal Joshua Liddell said. “Along the way we have made friends, created memories and developed a solid foundation?”

The commencement was CLCS’s 21st annual ceremony since the school was created. The presentation of diplomas was given by Board of Education President Jay Baker with Guidance Counselors Jessica Cowan and Jason Richardson giving brief introductions of each student walking across the stage. The commencement could also be seen in the cafeteria where the school was live streaming it to any people who needed to excuse themselves from the auditorium. Each graduate had a different backstory and a different future but one thing was for sure: they were finished with high school.

Salutatorian Taylor Phelps’s address told stories of her experience while she attended school at CLCS and even referenced NBA legend Michael Jordan. Her message was about failure and how it shouldn’t stop each graduate on the stage from pursuing their dreams.

Phelps referenced Michael Jordan’s experience in high school and how even he was met with failure, emphasizing the fact that he was cut from his high school basketball team.

Her point was that if even the greatest basketball player failed to do what he was greatest at in the beginning, then the graduates should not give up on themselves at the first sight of difficulty.

She joked that while the students might not be ready to leave their daily routine they have grown accustomed to behind them, their parents are eagerly waiting to turn their old bedroom into a new office or a gym.

“Jokes aside we should all be proud to be graduating from high school to either pursue a degree in college, join the work force or join the military,” Phelps said.

One by one the graduating CLCS students took center stage and received their diploma and were one step closer to the next phase of their life.

Valedictorian Emily Brown took the podium just after everyone had received their diplomas and addressed her fellow students and the audience. Her speech focused on the reality that even though the graduates are leave school, they’re not done learning.

“We are all here tonight to celebrate our accomplishment in graduating,” Brown said. “I for one am excited to look back and say I finished high school.”

Brown did admit that she and her fellow students could use the summer vacation to rest their brains from learning, just for a little bit. She thanked all the families and teachers in attendance and made it clear that it was the graduating student’s duty to use what they have learned in high school to change the world.

“Don’t stop searching for knowledge since high school is now over. There is still a world out there that is waiting to be explored,” Brown said. “If we just leave the knowledge that we have acquired unused then we will have learned nothing at all.”