Story by Janmarie Foschini
Fifty-three students from the Greenwood Lake Middle School walked across the school stage for one final time on Tues., Jun. 25 as they received their diplomas, many accepting additional awards.
Prior to the ceremony beginning, the audience watched a slideshow, “The Year in Review Photo Presentation,” which included pictures from throughout the past years. Guests also listened to the school jazz band play.
The procession began as students filed onto the beautifully decorated stage and remained standing for greetings from G.L. Middle School Principal Jeffrey Golubchick. Principal Golubchick began the ceremony by welcoming everyone and thanking the District administration, led by Acting Superintendent Sarah Hadden, the PTSA, and the Board of Education. He also recognized the front office staff for all of their hard work.
Golubchick’s message to students was to begin thinking about choices that will bring happiness for years to come.
“Whether you choose mind or choose kind, you need to make safe and appropriate choices that will also make you happy,” said Golubchick.
In referencing Pharrell Williams song, “Happy,” Golubchick stated how the message is deeper – “about choosing to be happy no matter what people say about you and how you don’t need to waste your time responding to people’s unkind words. We also must think about how decisions made today have staying power tomorrow and can leave a lasting imprint.”
He continued to encourage students to make smart choices when using social media, as it may possibly live on in the world and may affect students later on in their life.
In closing, Principal Golubchick said, “I wish you all the best of luck in high school and beyond. Class of 2019, think about what happiness is to you because that happiness is your truth. Congratulations!”
Acting Superintendent Sarah Hadden then took the stage, thanked the audience and turned to the graduating class and talked to them about the “power that comes within,” the thing that makes you special what will set you apart from the crowd.
Hadden said, “As you transition to high school you’ll need to begin to listen more and more to that inner voice; it will help you make the right decision. Once you hear the squeals with glee or a giant whoop, you”ll know you found a life passion.”
Hadden encouraged students to think back on the one teacher in Greenwood Lake who made them feel that special and challenged them to keep in touch as the years go on. Keep them as a “touchstone of where you came from to remind you of what you developed in Greenwood Lake.”
In summary Hadden, told students, “never compare yourself to the best others can do, but to do the best you can do.”
Class President Jayden Carlo spoke to his peers, family, and guests about the years they shared at Greenwood Lake and the memories they created.
He said to his fellow classmates, “I’m going to leave you with this. Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Work hard until your dreams come true. You only get one shot at life, so don’t waste it. Don’t watch the world change. Change the world yourself.”
School salutatorian Lizbeth Varela-Cordero, who was also the recipient of other school awards such as Academic Excellence in English, was applauded as she began her speech, thanking her fellow classmates, teachers past and present, as well as the administration.
Varela-Cordero looked back on her years in G.L., the memories that were made, and bonds that were formed, and referenced how she excelled in her subjects and earned the highest score on her exams by working hard and having a strong support system.
Following the speeches, a variety of awards were presented to students which included the Honor Awards to students who were on the high honor roll since sixth grade, the Volunteerism Award, School Spirit, Physical Education, Leadership, Citizenship, Superintendent’s Award, and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, as well as many memorial awards such as the Dale Hirrel Award and The Ellen White Award.
Upon completion of the awards, school valedictorian Benjamin Pitiger spoke to his classmates and the audience. Pitiger, who received many additional awards such as Academic Excellence in Math, said, “Graduation is an exciting time. It marks both an ending and a beginning. It’s reminds us of warm memories from the past and prepares us for big dreams in the future.”
In closing Pitiger, wished his classmates much success in their high school years and thanked all the administration and staff. The finale of the evening was the presentation of diplomas by Principal Golubchick and the Board of Education.
As the ceremony concluded, the graduating class of 2019 was cheered as they walked off the stage for one final time to the song, “The Good Old Days” by Macklemore.