BROADALBIN – A rotary phone, a song from their past, and a jar with a lesson on how to fill it were among the props speakers used to give the Broadalbin-Perth High School class of 2014 some perspective on the passage of time.
Friday night, 130 students graduated from Broadalbin-Perth High School, 117 of them with Regents diplomas. Forty-nine students also graduated with advanced designations in addition to the Regents diploma.
Broadalbin-Perth High School Principal Robin Blowers gave a speech of welcome at the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District’s commencement. Blowers, who graduated from high school in 1974, asked the students to consider where they will be in 40 years. She held up a rotary phone to illustrate how much had changed since she was in their shoes.
“Will you be 58 and fabulous or 58 and forlorn? When you look back 40 years from now, what will you find? Will you be a little grayer, have a little junk in the truck? Yes, it may happen to you guys. How fast time goes by,” she said.
After Blowers’ speech the district’s top three students – Lydia Dake, Ryan Charland and Tyese Fraser – each gave speeches.
Dake spoke about how a year ago it had been her dream to major in theater and make it big on Broadway.
“Upon prioritizing, however, I decided this plan interfered with other hopes I’d had for my life. I did some soul searching and was able to find passion in other fields, but I’ve always held on to that strong desire to make an impact,” she said. “I think at some point in almost all of our lives, we’ve wanted to make an impact on the world. Whether it was when we were little kids, and maybe we wanted to be president, or a rock star, or a superhero, or now, when maybe we want to be president, or a rock star, or a superhero.”
Charland quoted bestselling author Malcom Gladwell who once wrote, “Who we are, cannot be separated from where we’re from.”
“Years from now, when we’ve obtained our successes, we’ll look back and realize just how much that means. Broadalbin-Perth has given us more than just an excellent education. It has given us honesty, integrity, responsibility, workmanship and the courage to tackle our obstacles,” he said.
Fraser encouraged her classmates to take advantage of their new lives after graduation and to leave their comfort zones behind.
“I challenge you, class of 2014, to try something new. Join a club sport that you’ve never played. Try a basket-weaving club to fill up your free time. Take this opportunity to reinvent yourself,” she said.
Dake, Charland and Fraser were three of the top 10 students for the class of 2014, the others were: Courtney Trombly, Gerrit Crannell, Francesco Mastrocinque, Kenneth Robbins, Emily Spraggs, Gregg Slezak and Katie Herba.
When Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson spoke, he reminded students and the audience at the graduation that this class began its education at the district only a few days before the tragic terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, when Tomlinson was the district’s elementary school principal. Tomlinson said he remembers how protective he felt of those students. He played for them the Phil Collins song “You’ll be in my Heart,” from the Disney movie “Tarzan,” which he had played for the class of 2014 when they were promoted from third grade in 2005. He said the song’s lyrics represented how he felt about the class of 2014 in the days after the terrorist attacks.
Tomlinson added that he never told the parents of the students what he said to their children as the song played – until Friday night.
“The secret was kept for 13 years until now. Your parents have always wondered what it was that I told you when I knelt down to you while that song was playing,” he said. “I told all of you not to be scared, to be brave when going to the intermediate school and that all of you should be proud to leave your home for the past four years and that you were ready for the big world. I also told you to be happy and to always find a smile.”
Tomlinson gave the graduates the same message Friday. He used a visual metaphor of a jar, which he first filled with large rocks, then smaller pebbles and finally sand. He told the students the jar was like their lives and the big rocks represent their family and loved ones, the pebbles stand for the other things that matter like their jobs and education and the sand is everything else. He encouraged them not to fill their lives with sand.