‘This class is amazing’

Homer grads say farewell, welcome new beginnings

gradJoe McIntyre/staff photographer      
ABOVE: Homer High School graduate Leslie Reynolds holds up one of Principal Fred Farah’s “lost marbles” Saturday while standing outside the Park Center ice arena at SUNY Cortland with fellow graduate Brittany Riehman.

BELOW: Homer’s Class of 2006 started its summer fun early by smuggling beach balls into Saturday’s commencement ceremony. grad2

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Homer High School class of 2006 was restless Saturday. Every so often a student would drop one of the marbles that every soon-to-be graduate was holding.
“When we go across the stage to get our diplomas, we’re putting them in a jar,” said Leslie Reynolds, 17, as she waited behind the Park Center ice arena at SUNY Cortland.
The jar would be a gift for high school Principal Fred Farah.
“Like giving his marbles back, his brain,” Reynolds said.
She was among the approximately 175 Homer seniors who graduated Saturday. Many had made arrangements for enjoying the ceremony to its fullest.
“There’s a couple plans, but I don’t know if I should reveal them,” Zach McMullin, 19, said before revealing some details. “A bunch of us have beach balls, we’ve got balloons, a bunch of us brought air horns.”
Class advisor Melissa Schug caught the last part of his plans as she walked down the line during the final preparations before “Pomp and Circumstance” began.
“Remember — dignified, Zach,” Schug gently reinforced.
The class held true to her words as graduates walked in pairs down the center of the rink, the image projected on a screen over the corner of the stage.
Following opening remarks by Farah, class President Katherine Hughes made an impassioned speech about the value of the high school community.
“Your house could burn down, and we’d be there to pick it back up,” a tearful Hughes said. “This class is amazing, and I’m going to miss seeing your faces in school every day.”
Salutatorian Mitchell Pesesky used an analogy in his speech.
“Life is a long-distance race … and diplomas are the baton. They are our signal to begin the race,” Pesesky said. “Luckily, we come from a school with a good track record.”
Featured speaker Jim Barry, a junior high school science teacher, asked the audience members to belt out the name of the graduate they were there to celebrate.
“Make the rafters shake,” Barry told the crowd, eliciting a deafening response.
Students fanned themselves with their programs and honored the speakers by whooping and bouncing inflatable balls and balloons off each others’ heads. Confetti flew into the air and bubbles danced to the occasional exclamation of an air horn.
Class Treasurer Zachary Phelps presented the class gifts and announced his candidacy for president of the United States in 2028. He joked that they would give the incoming freshman class finger paints and a bedsheet.
“Mr. Farah, we found your marbles and we will be returning them to you,” Phelps informed the principal.
Valedictorian Elizabeth Siegle brought along a few mementos from her tenure at Homer.
“For four years, this backpack has followed me down the hallways of Homer,” Siegle said.
As she unpacked, Siegle explained how the items she had brought had been important to the growth of the class.
Included were such relics as Mr. A, one of the letter people used to teach the alphabet to young children; a blue ribbon from Field Days in elementary school as a reminder of Homer’s athletic excellence; a driver’s license that signified independence; and a teenager’s best friend — Proactiv Solution for acne control.
Siegle ended her speech by pulling out a banner that read “Congratulations Class of 2006” and holding it above her head.
After the presentation of awards, each student walked across the stage and received a diploma to the cheers of family and friends.
The delegation supporting Patrick Lyon had brought bright green, 3-foot high letters that spelled out “PAT” that they waved when Lyon walked the stage.
The alma mater was sung, caps were tossed and tassels were lost
Jessica Ferris, 17, met with her friends just outside the large door at the back of the Alumni Arena.
“I thought it was going to be a lot longer, that wasn’t bad at all,” Ferris said of the ceremony.
Cory Noble, 18, said he didn’t feel all that different now that he was a high school graduate and all.
“I think the worst part is just leaving everybody,” Noble said. “I’ll just see where things go — I’m working with Rolex to be a watch maker.”
Christina Murray, 17, said that she had refrained from crying during the commencement.
“I’m sure it will come later, more than positive it will,” Murray said.



Auction draws car enthusiasts

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Frank Donato drove five and a half hours from Middle Island in Suffolk County with one car on his mind: a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Roadster.
“I like these types of cars — I’d like to try to get this,” Donato said Saturday. “This is one of my life goals, to get a Corvette before I die.”
The Corvette was one of more than 80 cars up for auction Saturday, all part of the collection of former Cortlandville car dealer James C. Stevens. The cars ranged from 1915 Model T Ford to 1984 Zimmer coupe.
The auction was held on the Stevens’ farm off Hillcrest Drive in Cortlandville, and raised more than $1.1 million. Hundreds of people attended throughout the six hours of bidding, with cars continuously arriving at the field.
RM Auctions of Ontario, Canada, ran the auction, which had 85 lots available for bidding. In addition to the myriad of rare cars and accessories, and three airplanes also went on the block.
Donato said his limit was $15,000 — the Corvette sold for $17,825.
“I wasn’t going to go to 16 because it didn’t have the original engine in it,” Donato said after the auction Sunday.
Kim Becker of Aurora had come to the auction with a few of her friends and said she usually tries to make about one car auction a week.
“We go to Carlisle, we’ve been to Arizona,” Becker said, sounding just a little guilty. “We bought a couple Chevies. My friends are still shopping.”
Most of the cars were unrestored originals.
Joanie Rupprecht of Liverpool walked past speakers with her fingers in her ears, apparently unhappy with the volume of the auctioneer’s amplified voice.
“I’m sneaking off to my car to get a book, and then I’m going to find a tree,” Rupprecht said. “(I go to) all kinds of auctions — don’t buy much, but it’s always entertaining to see what people think things are worth.”