June 28, 2010
Homer grads say farewell
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Jaclyn Yonta, left, and Kathleen Norris share a hug while lining up Saturday for the procession of graduates for the Homer High School’s class of 2010 commencement ceremony at the SUNY Cortland PER Center.
HOMER — Retired teacher Martin Sweeney told the graduating class of 2010 to remember the important things about their high school career: friendships, school activities and most importantly, academics.
Sweeney was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s Homer High School graduation at SUNY Cortland. There are 154 graduates in the class, including one French exchange student.
To illustrate his point about the importance of academics, he read responses from tests he received as a history teacher.
“Rosa Parks sat in front of the bus,” Sweeney recited from a paper on the legendary civil rights activist.
The crowd laughed, because Rosa Parks sat on a bus to protest laws that discriminated against blacks.
Most responses were fictitious, but some were taken from actual papers, said Sweeney, urging students to learn from their mistakes and evolve.
“You are a work in progress, like history,” Sweeney said.
The Class of 2010 is a great class, salutatorian Luke Pedersen said, as he addressed the crowd.
Pedersen recounted how after a tragic incident, the Homer community and his fellow classmates supported him, demonstrating the closeness of Homer. Two family members of his — a cousin, Alissa Churchill and her grandmother, Sally Churchill — died in a car accident in 2007.
Doug VanEtten, principal of Homer High School, said the class of 2010 defined Blue Pride, the principles that characterize the spirit of students in the Homer Central School District.
“I can’t wait to see what they do next,” VanEtten said.
This is VanEtten’s first year as Homer High School principal, and he said he was happy Homer High School was able to prepare graduates for the next step in their young lives.
“We are preparing the people who will be the next leaders; the decision-makers of the world,” VanEtten said.
During the graduation ceremony, students kicked beach balls and gave an inflatable swimming pool to VanEtten. Superintendent of Schools Doug Larison presented diplomas and announced scholarships with VanEtten and Board of Education President Scott Ochs.
Larison, who is retiring in December, was given a gift certificate from the class of 2010 to a running store. He plans to run a race in all 50 states. Saturday was his last graduation ceremony as superintendent of schools.
“There have been a lot of great classes I’ve seen,” Larison said. “It’s great to end my career with such a great class.”
Larison’s youngest son, Nicholas Larison, was in the graduating class. John Ochs, son of Scott Ochs, was also in the graduating class.
Erica Rose VanDyke said she was too overwhelmed with emotion to fully grasp the concept of no longer being a high school student.
“I don’t think it hit me yet,” said VanDyke after the commencement ceremony with her family. VanDyke, who lives in Homer with her father and stepmother, will attend Johson and Wales University, a culinary institute in Denver.
Cameron MacTavish, another graduate, said he was ready for the next step in life.
“I’m pretty excited. High School is over and we’re (the graduating class) looking for a bright horizon,” said MacTavish, who will be a freshman at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall.
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