ELDRED, NY — The morning of June 25th was an exciting day for the graduates of Eldred Central High School (ECS). What started out as a cloudy Saturday event turned into a pleasant and sunny celebration. The 50 soon-to-be graduates made their way to the stage to the traditional graduation melody played by the school band, which was followed by the National Anthem sung by Courtney Hofaker.
Principal Scott Krebs began the ceremony with a personal speech to the graduates. He recalled past memories he had the privilege of sharing with the students, including lessons they had taught him throughout the years. He jokingly mentioned how the class had taught him that naptime was not only for Kindergartners and is still a crucial part of the day.
Krebs also took a moment to remember student Justin Storms, who passed away in 2009. He assured the students that Justin was present at the ceremony in spirit, and that he would be proud of his classmates’ accomplishments.
This year, Jane Heisler had the honor of being inducted into Eldred’s Hall of Fame. The Mackenzie elementary school was heartbroken with the loss of their beloved librarian who had passed away earlier in the year. She is remembered as an active community member and is loved by many in the district. Daughter, Jen Heisler was present at the ceremony and received the award on behalf of her mother.
Former history teacher Robert Skibinski was invited to be the guest speaker at the ceremony. His speech emphasized how graduation was the start to the rest of the graduate’s lives. He advised them to accept new challenges and encouraged them to continue striving towards new goals. In his closing words, he wished “health, happiness and success” for the graduates.
Salutatorian Tyler Worzel and valedictorian Savannah Lust gave very different perspectives of their time spent at ECS. Tyler spoke about how great it was to grow up with his classmates and move up with them each year. He gave many thanks to the parents, teachers and friends who made his final year at Eldred so memorable.
Savannah emphasized the differences between her experiences compared to the experiences of the other students. She spoke about how kind the senior class was in accepting her after her personal decision to graduate early. Savannah thanked her classmates for adopting her as the “baby of the class” and helping her shape into the person she has become.
As the ceremony commenced to the awarding of diplomas, there was a special graduate being honored. Air force veteran Raymond Reiser, who left the school 57 years ago, was given a diploma after serving in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Recently, the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs introduced a new Veterans Education Program called "Operation Recognition" to recognize the dedication and sacrifice of veterans who left school before graduating by awarding high school diplomas today. Continuing the family history at ECS, Raymond Reisers’ grand nephew, Patrick Reiser, received his diploma this year as well. In addition, Patrick’s father, Douglas Reiser, currently serves as president of the ECS Board of Education.
The graduation was an emotional celebration for the faculty, staff, and family members who had been through many memorable years with this group of students. The day was filled with high hopes for the students’ futures.