Cassadaga Valley Students Recognized During Commencement Ceremony

The Cassadaga Valley Central School held its 79th Commencement Friday at J. Arthur France Auditorium. Photo by Braden Carmen

GERRY — Friday night was a night of accomplishment and celebration for the Class of 2018 at Cassadaga Valley Central School. The school’s 79th Commencement took place at J. Arthur France Auditorium, honoring the senior class of Cougars advancing to their lives as adults. Though many joked in their speeches how they may not remember what was said Friday night, the night will surely be memorable to the students and their families.

Principal Scot Stutzman began the celebration by thanking the parents, teachers and school board. Then, he turned to the students and said “Before we begin … I turn to you and say, ‘We’re proud of you.'”

Next to take the spotlight was CVCS salutatorian, Julia Anderson, to give her address. Anderson was originally scheduled to graduate in the Class of 2019, but chose to combine her junior and senior years to graduate early in the same class as her brother, Ben. Not only did she do so, but she was able to earn the honor of the class salutatorian. After telling her story of her journey to become part of the Class of 2018, Anderson said, “I’m honored to stand before you all today as the Salutatorian of Cassadaga Valley Central School, Class of 2018.”

Anderson said she had trouble finding a topic for her speech, and acknowledged that being known as “Ben’s little sister” made it hard to write about experiences with those in her class. Anderson said she wanted to “stray from some big, long, boring, inspirational speech.” Anderson said, “The truth is, you probably won’t remember what I’m saying. You’ll probably forget almost everything you’ve learned here, but I bet as you look around, you can remember a certain interaction with each one of your peers. I bet you’ll remember the one who helped you pick up the books you dropped, the ones who sat next to you at lunch on the first day of school, or that Mr. Stutzman refused to use a microphone during assemblies.” Anderson went on to say, “The facts you learn in high school about George Washington being the first president or that 2x+3=7 when x=2 are not what you will remember from your time here — it will be who you interacted with and what they made you feel.”

CVCS Valedictorian Mariana Waite spoke of how years ago, she was involved in a fifth grade musical titled “Go West,” and how that experience compared to Friday’s. Waite said, “Now we sit, seven years later, all together again on the stage, but this time, we’ve traded in our cowboy hats and exchanged them for a graduation cap.” Waite called it, “a symbol of hard work, determination, perseverance, and lots and lots of Google searches.”

Waite later proclaimed, “Our time spent here has prepared us to branch out and show the rest of the world that greatness can come from anywhere, even a small-town school such as our own.” She later thanked her parents and spoke to how everyone’s parents have put them in position to succeed. Waite said, “I have noticed a common theme in our class: Support. Whether it be a Friday night football game, the annual musical, or a silly game in our school’s pep rally, we are always there for our classmates, cheering each other on.” She finished by saying, “This class is special, and I truly hope we have made more of a positive impact on our school, just as it did for us,” followed by a message to never settle for what is comfortable or easy.

Finally, students were given their diplomas by Superintendent Charles Leichner and Board President Jeanne Oag. The Students had personalized messages, some from teachers, others from family members — broadcast through the speakers as they were called to receive their diploma. One student — Athlete of the Year award recipient Daniel Torres – stopped to take a selfie while on stage.