321 graduates turn the tassels at Central Mountain

MILL HALL – In a gymnasium crowded with friends, family, administrators and teachers, the 321 seniors at Central Mountain High School marched in to “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Those same students marched out with diplomas designating them graduates and members of the class of 2014.

This was the 15th commencement at the high school.

Class president Dalton Confer talked about how it felt to be a senior and how brief the feeling was, even at its end when he recognized that each and every member of the class go off to live very different lives.

He asked the students to hold on to some things, however,especially the memories these friends and colleagues created together.

Valedictorian Zachary High talked about decisions.

“You have the power to change our life by the decisions you make,” he said.

He also talked about “putting in the time” and said he was not the brightest or most talented student in the class, but earned his achievement by doing the work.

He returned to that theme time and time again, by asking individual students to stand, and commenting on their abilities and how those talents had a personal impact on his life.

Each of them, he said, “put in the time” to achieve goals and reach new skills.

The theme continued as he asked veterans, family members and teachers to stand, then reflected on their work and commitment to their causes.

The speech was capped by another humorous moment, when High reached under his gown, pulled out his cellphone, asked for patience, then took a “selfie” with the 2014 class in the background.

Salutatorian Andrew Wheeler gave a farewell address, and his speech touched on journeys begun and life just beginning, with school and the knowledge they gained there being a foundation for the future.

Keystone Central School District Superintendent Kelly Hastings called upon the experts, “the wisest people I know,” including school board president Jack Peters and “my mom,” and asked them all what advice they might give to their 18-year-old selves.

For Peters, it was developing a work ethic as the basic foundation of life. Another person said “believe in yourself” and “be in touch with the earth.” A third offered the warning, “never allow anybody to take away your peace of mind.”

English teacher Kelly Baker offered literary advice based upon Robert Frost’s “The Road Not taken” and Benjamin Haagen said “don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”