Some are heading to college as close as Schenectady County Community College or as far away as Arizona State University. Others are embarking on military paths, continuing trade courses or starting jobs. Whatever their chosen path, members of the Class of 2016 were reminded at Mohonasen High School’s June 25 commencement ceremony that each and every student can make a difference in the world.
“Regardless of what you choose to do after receiving your diploma today, don’t settle for just getting by,” senior speaker Austin Blanchard told classmates. “Expect and demand the best from yourself. Hard work and determination will make everything you want a reality.”
Blanchard was selected during the school’s 26th Annual Graduation Speaker Contest, held in April, to give opening remarks. Kyliene DiStefano-Philips was chosen to deliver the ceremony’s closing remarks, and Kunika Chahal was tapped to present the keynote address at this year’s commencement ceremony. Contestants McKenzie Burns and Abigail Sloan were selected to speak during the June 24 Senior Breakfast.
“We have the judgment, we have the capacity, and we have the ambition to make the changes the world needs from us,” said Blanchard.
In her keynote address, Chahal recalled Bob Anderson, a beloved high school hall monitor who died unexpectedly in February. “The best lessons at Mohon weren’t taught in the classrooms but instead in the hallway,” said Chahl, with an apology to teachers.
“Bob Anderson, our ‘Bobcat,’ taught us more than people like Ghandi ever could. Every morning, with a big smile on his face, he would tell each and every one of us, ‘We need more people like you in the world.’”
Chahal said Anderson inspired students to “work hard and to dream even harder.” Anderson told her the sky was not the limit for the Mohonasen Class of 2016.
“He said, ‘You guys don’t have a limit. It’s going to be you guys who are going to change the world and make it a better place,’” recalled Chahal. “Bob’s right; we can never limit our dreams. Only without limiting our dreams can we be the people to change the world today, to make it a better place for tomorrow.”
DiStefano-Philips reminded classmates that, whatever their chosen path – college, military or workforce – “our opportunities are endless.”
“The truth is, moving on is scary. Leaving behind everything we have ever knows is an unsettling thought,” said DiStefano-Philips. “But at the same time it’s exhilarating. We made it!”