Whitehall grads get advice, reflection

A shley Macy won’t soon forget her senior year, but not because of the good times with friends, or because it was her final year in high school. She’ll remember it because of what she accomplished in her final months at Whitehall High School.

Macy could have coasted through her final year in high school, but near the end of her junior year, she made the decision that simply graduating was not enough.

“I wanted to get something better than just a high school diploma or IPA, so I decided to try and graduate with a Regent’s diploma,” Macy said. “I thought it would help with college; show them I pushed myself to go further.”

It required lots of work but on Friday evening, she achieved her goal and in the process became only the second member of her family to graduate high school. “I feel nervous and excited. It’s a very happy moment to graduate and get out of here, but it’s really nice here,” said Macy, who will attend SUNY Adirondack in the fall.

She was among 49 students who received a diploma during Whitehall’s 130th annual commencement.

The ceremony was conducted inside the newly renovated auditorium on a warm Friday night.

Students entered the auditorium in pairs — boys dressed in maroon, girls in white — as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and friends gave them a standing ovation.

After Maggie Benjamin led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Principal Kelly McHugh took the lectern.

During her opening remarks, she described the Class of 2012 as spirited and fun. “They’ve kept me on my toes and have tested our patience, but they have been a pleasure to work with. They have enjoyed lots of fun and exciting times.”

Emily Sweeney reflected on some of those times during her salutatorian address, while looking to the future.

“We have all accomplished much here at Whitehall and it has gotten us to where we are now, but we must remember, as we start the new chapters of our lives, this one must close. All that we have done here will simply be the past and will no longer define who we are. Whatever it is that we choose to do after high school, don’t regret your choices here. Those decisions and actions made us who we are today.’

Later in the evening, McHugh took time to recognize the top 10 graduates and presented more than 90 awards, many of which are sponsored by local families and organizations.

Of the 49 graduates, nine earned college credit, three graduated with advanced designation, one with honors, and four with a BOCES CTE certification. A majority of the graduates, 30, will attend college in the fall, three will enter the military and the rest will enter the workforce.

Before receiving their diplomas, class valedictorian offered his classmates some advice as they prepared to leave behind the cozy and familiar confines of Whitehall High School.

“Be yourself. You are an individual no greater, no lesser than any individual of the world. Carry yourself with pride, and throw yourself with courage. And understand, but respectfully disagree with failure. Let determination stir your blood, but let love sooth it. Leave the cap off any bottled emotions, but bite your tongue if your tongue may hurt the feelings of others. Keep learning and rephilosophizing your morals and values, but always love your family and always love yourself,” Diekel said.

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