GLOVERSVILLE – As the 152 members of the 137th graduating class of Gloversville High School sat in the school’s gymnasium for the last time, they were reminded to be proud of where they came from, and to continue pursuing their dreams.
Commencement speaker Chris Ciaccio, a 1990 graduate of GHS, encouraged students to keep trying in life. He told them of his own personal struggles that led him to where he is today.
Ciaccio told students to remember three lessons that he wished he had a better understanding of when he graduated from high school. His first lesson he gave, with a little help from The Beatles, was that you can get by with a little help from your friends.
He said that to have good friends, students needed to remember to be good friends. He said that no matter where they go in life, the class of 2014 will need good friends.
“So remember, always take the time to be a good friend, because none of us know when we will find ourselves in a situation that may seem larger than life,” Ciaccio said.
Ciaccio requested that students define what success means to them.
He told the class there is something in each one of them that sparks a passion and a drive. He told them to find what that is and go after it, and to not let what others think of them or where they came from affect their futures.
Finally, Ciaccio asked students to expect to fail, but not to let failure stop them. He said he doesn’t know a single person who has failed in life, or faced some kind of adversity or rejection at some point.
“I am here to tell you, it is OK to fail,” Ciaccio said. “It is OK if adversity knocks you down; it is OK to get rejected.”
He said not only is failure OK, but it will happen and it will be critical to future successes.
In closing, he told students to remember the words of his 5-year-old niece: “Anything is possible.”
Salutatorian Hannah Gillis, who will be attending Siena College in the fall, reminded her classmates to not forget the roots they have in the community. She said that students should appreciate and embrace the foundation upon which the city and their own characters were built.
“Each one of us has the potential to both succeed and make a difference in life,” Gillis said. “Whether your journey sends you far away or close to home, never forget what our city has given us.”
Valedictorian Emily Braunius, who is attending Clarkson University, got some help with her speech from a Disney movie. Braunius said their class was one that allowed students to be themselves and didn’t get so competitive that it affected other students.
“Our class was filled with a lot of great people, and we all got to be excited about whatever we wanted to,” Braunius said.
Braunius said that she felt blessed to be a part of the Gloversville class of 2014, and called her fellow graduates fantastic.
“Maybe high school wasn’t exactly as Disney led us to believe when we were 10-year-olds watching ‘High School Musical,'” Braunius said. “Some parts of it may have been awful, but we had some pretty amazing people to go through it with.”