WELLSVILLE - There is a famous saying, "Home is where the heart is."
The hearts of the Wellsville High School Class of 2014 were firmly grounded in their hometown as their minds looked toward the future Sunday as they became the district's 139th graduating class.
Home and the journey which lies ahead for the class of 2014 were major themes in this year's commencement ceremony.
Members of Wellsville High School’s Class of 2014 turn their tassels in unison during their commencement ceremony Sunday in the high school gymnasium. Their class colors were orange and silver and their class flower was the tiger lilly, both of which nicely compliment Wellsville color scheme. (Photo by Devin Bezeredi)
James R. Brown was the featured speaker at the 139th Wellsville High School Graduation Sunday. Brown is an alumnus of the Wellsville High School class of 1964. He is currently retired after serving as coach, teacher and administrator in the Wellsville district for many years. (Photo by Devin Bezeredi)
Following the processional and National Anthem, Superintendent Richard Bereschik recognized those students graduating with honors. He commended the eight seniors graduating with honors, noting that their outstanding academic performance makes them well prepared for the challenges which lie ahead.
High school show choir group Ebony and Ivory set the tone of the ceremony with a heartfelt rendition of "Feels Like Home" in which they were joined by several of their senior classmates.
Graduating at the head of 2014's class of 67 students was Valedictorian Samantha Caldwell. She presented her classmates with a speech entitled "The Road That Lies Ahead."
Caldwell told her classmates that although they had all taken different roads to arrive at this day, they now all stood united as a family. She thanked her classmates, teacher and community for preparing her for the road ahead. She said that after graduation, seniors would likely once again be going down paths in life.
Caldwell encouraged each of her classmates to find their own special calling in life and leave their mark on the world, a fitting remark considering the class of 2014 motto: "Nothing we do changes the past; everything we do changes the future."
"The road ahead is the rest of our lives," said Caldwell. "We can be whatever we want to be."
Salutatorian Domenica Cartwright used her address to emphasize that while graduates go their separate ways, they will always carry a little piece of home with them. She said that home was not just the town in which they all had grown up but their friends, teachers and spirit of their community.
Cartwright also urged her classmate to have the confidence to pursue their dreams wholeheartedly. She noted that confidence is sometimes a difficult quality to cultivate in one's self, but all her classmates should feel confident knowing they have been well prepared for their futures.
"Throughout the years, I've learned that confidence is one of the most important qualities to have in life," said Cartwright.
The guest speaker at this year's ceremony was Wellsville High School class of 1964 alumnus and retired Wellsville educator and administrator James R. Brown.
Brown served as principal, coach, superintendent and teacher in his many years working in the Wellsville school district.
Brown recalled how it seemed like just yesterday that he too was graduating from Wellsville, eager to begin life after high school. He said that, though it may feel not that long ago, it was 50 years ago he graduated. Today he was likely speaking to some of the grandchildren of his classmates he said.
Brown told graduates to treasure the memory of their graduation and their time spent at Wellsville, as they too may soon be looking back on 50 years gone by. Brown's message to the class of 2014 was to not be afraid of the challenges that lie ahead and to be confident knowing they had received a quality education.
"We are all apprehensive of the unknown," said Brown. "Your education has prepared you for the responsibilities and demands that will be made of you."
He reminded the seniors that "life is constantly changing," and life after high school may hold many unforeseen and unexpected events. No matter what happens, graduates can feel secure in knowing that their education has given them the skills to navigate any circumstance they are dealt.
"No one can see the future but you have the skills to pursue your dream," said Brown. "After all, you are qualified and the whole world is at your feet."
Following Browns speech and the changing of the tassels, the class of 2014 sang the Alma Mater one last time. As they sang, they were joined by their families and teachers. As Wellsville graduates past and present sang together it was clear that the class of 2014, like classes before them, will forever carry a sense of home with them on the long road ahead.