Arrayed in their caps and gowns, beaming with pride and savoring the moment, 93 Sullivan West graduates experienced a rite of passage through touching speeches, lovely music and finally the awarding of their well-deserved diplomas at the 2013 Sullivan West commencement ceremonies on June 22.
The gymnasium was filled with parents, friends, faculty and community members, as was the auditorium, which, for the first time, featured a live video stream of the proceedings for those seated therein. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by class treasurer Richard Lander, and the national anthem played by the band under the direction of Rossar Reynolds, the Sullivan West High School Senior Choir under the direction of Jerry Hoch gave a lovely rendition of “Defying Gravity,” from Wicked.
Superintendent Nancy Hackett gave her welcoming talk, noting how she felt she had been here so much more than just the one year since her arrival. She hearkened back to the class’s elementary, middle school and high school years and the learning milestones gained at each phase. “Keep learning, never stop trying and always keep growing,” she advised.
Salutatorian Adam Murphy brought a humorous tack to his speech that included a remarkable imitation of teacher/coach Ron Bauer’s sagacity. Murphy said that being second best was an honor, but that striving to be the best was always uppermost.
Seniors in band took up their instruments for the last time in school as the band played George Bizet’s “Farrandole.” Valedictorian Amanda Hulse implored her classmates to maintain their individuality, something the school supported along the way, and to “hold fast and stay true to yourselves.”
Senior class president Cassidy Sauer presented this year’s senior class gift, a new four-by-five-foot flag for the auditorium. High school principal Margaret Tenbus was delighted to have “the last word,” so to speak. She talked about the number 13 and its reputation for bad luck, which has given rise to something called triskaidekaphobia. It’s the fear of 13—something which clearly had no bearing on this year’s graduating class bearing the same number.
She began by lauding the Career and Tech students who had the distinction of attaining the best attendance of any school from Sullivan County. Talking about the mystique of 13, she asserted that luck has nothing to do with it, and that in fact it was the charge of each of us to “make our own luck,” noting that good fortune, not luck, was what brought these students to this milestone abetted along the way by parents, school, friends and community. “Thirteen can be a positive number associated with you,” she declared.
Diplomas were then presented to the graduates, along with a reading of the scholarships won by those who had merited such honors. Members of the school board past and present, as well as high school principal Scott Haberli, had the honor of presenting diplomas to their children. These include board members Angela Daley presenting to her daughter Kristen, Kevin Murphy presenting to his son Adam, former board member Richard Lander and Brian Grady presenting Richard and Oliva respectively and Scott Haberli presenting to his son Eric. The ceremony concluded with the recessional. Refreshments were served provided by the Western Sullivan United Teachers and School Related Personnel.