- Lake Shore Central School District
Group photo by Bonnie's Photo Imagery.
Graduating brothers Nate and Ryan Chmura are congratulated by the Board of Education and school administration.
Meadow Porter and Hailey Garrison.
Aiden Morrisey, Parker Cornwall and Ryan Martin.
Hugh Jamalkowski, Hailey Kliszak, Bethany Montroy, Anna Sheehan, Tyler Schott, Molly Majewski, Kelly Cian.
Bethany Montroy, Molly Majewski, Hailey Kliszak.
Some 160 students graduated in the Class of '22 this June at the school district's 138th Annual Commencement. Congratulations to everyone! There were some beautiful speeches at graduation. We share them here ...
Hailey Kliszak, Valedictorian
It is with great honor that I, Hailey Kliszak, get to give a speech to our graduating class. I can honestly tell you that I did not expect to be here. Being valedictorian was something I had never even dreamed of becoming. My main goal was to try my best at anything I did. I’m a perfectionist who is never satisfied which might seem like torture, and it is, but it has left me with the ability to embrace imperfection as well as a hunger for life. Receiving this title has been a great honor, though it can make you question who you really are and wonder if you can live up to everybody’s expectations. On paper I look like the perfect student with the grades, extracurriculars, and sports, but I want to make this clear, I am not perfect, or the smartest. That is not why I am here. The truth is that I don’t have it all together, I’m a perfectionist but also a procrastinator, and I don’t really sleep, and my voice shakes when I talk in front of people so most times I don’t- but I kind of have to do that today and my coach once told me that I have important things to say.
I want to start by using this platform to say that I am so grateful that our class is able to be here today. Let’s recognize all the lives that won’t get to walk across their stage on graduation due to the gun violence epidemic that has plagued America. If there is anything this has taught us it’s that there needs to be change. There is a lot of pressure on us right now, to fix all the problems of our world, a world with a climate crisis, a pandemic, a war, inequality and injustice. We’re supposed to solve these issues while trying to pay off student loans. I know this is a lot, but there is already so much we’ve overcome and you being here today proves that. Together, we have the voice and the power to overcome these challenges.
Now I will tell you a little about what I have learned from my time here.
It’s ok to not be sure. I used to feel shame when people would ask me where I’m going to college or what I will do with my life, and I would respond with “I’m not sure”. But I think I gave the best answer I could because none of us are “sure” of anything that will happen. We just don’t know. And that is terrifying, but also wonderful and exciting.
I have no idea what I will do or who I will become or where I am headed. Some may think that that’s not inspiring, but I think it is because what I am saying is that life is full of possibility. The way I imagine it, it's that we are all the little white things on a dandelion. Right now we are all connected to the stem, but when the wind blows we are all going to disperse into the world and see and do a million things we did not “plan” to. You're going to change your major, your career, your mind, countless times and that’s alright, just enjoy the ride and don’t stress about the things you can’t control.
I know I’m supposed to be up here to give you advice but I’m going to tell you that when people give you advice you didn’t ask for, you don’t always have to listen. One thing people will never run out of is their opinions. I have been told my whole life to be realistic, don’t do this, don’t do that, this is what you want, this is what you don’t want. I choose not to listen. Do not sacrifice what your heart wants for logic and reason because if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it a reality. When I was maybe 8, I colored a sign and put it above my bed that said “dream big” which is super cliché, but as an 8 year old I put that there because it’s something no one told me to do, I told myself to do it. That message is still above my bed because I will never be satisfied hearing what people think I can and cannot be. Those who make history don’t do it because they are chasing goals that are realistic, they do it because they cannot ignore the fire within them that commands them to try. So don’t wait around for something to happen to you. We are the authors of our own destiny and we decide what we want those pages to say.
This is probably the most some of you have heard me talk, but I want to tell you one last thing before you leave here, stay true to yourself. When you stop caring about how others perceive you, you become you, not a label, or an expectation, or anyone’s idea of you. On that note, I want to congratulate you all and thank you for giving me the best years of my life. No matter what happens next, my heart is full knowing that I got to spend these years with some pretty spectacular people. We laughed, we cried, we pushed each other, we did stupid things, but most importantly we grew together and I am so grateful for the time we shared. As you leave Lake Shore, remember the good times, take with you the values you’ve learned, welcome this new and exciting part of your life, and remember to make your own way in this world.
I want to start with the simple statement of wherever you end up, I wish you love. Love for yourself and love towards others. Love has the ability to connect people and that is a very powerful thing. It’s the connections made with others that are important and have the most impact on our lives. What these past four years, and especially my senior year, have taught me is how important love is and how lucky I am to live this life. We’re all moving on. We’re all going to have different experiences. That’s just how the world is. But, however cliché, love is powerful and a catalyst for change.
I was scrolling on Pinterest a few days ago (because I scroll through Pinterest in my free time but there is cool stuff on there) and I came across a quote with no actual source. It was painted on a rock and it said “Be that kind soul that makes everybody feel like a somebody”. This was something that resonated immediately. It reminds me of how flowers bloom when they meet the sun. Being a compassionate person means embodying that sun. Compassionate people spread kindness around like sunshine, creating blooming flowers in their wake. A kind heart creates an atmosphere of acceptance and love. Kind hearts and minds are the facet of humanity that makes us so special.
Love in one form or another is part of what motivates us to be our best. To show just as much love to ourselves as we do to others. It’s about being kind to your mind. Showing that kindness means taking time to heal and grow. It means learning from others and opening our hearts to love. Change comes from unity. There is power in the ability to bring people together. Coming together as separate, unique individuals will make us heard. Connecting our hearts and minds can create the unity necessary to make positive change.
We’re graduating now which is still very surreal. Learning and loving are what we are here to do. Growing up means always changing, doing our best to be good people. It means to "never be so kind you forget to be clever, but never so clever you forget to be kind". That's a Taylor Swift quote by the way. Graduation is very much a part of moving forward and growing up. We make our own futures and choices. We choose our own happiness. I wish you luck on your paths and above all, I wish you love.
Sneha Umma D’Andrea
I used to watch the clock. Hour by hour, minute by minute, counting down the seconds until I could spring up from the desk I occupied, gather my belongings, and leave the classroom. A small part of me used to smile every time the clock would change to 2:35 pm, signaling for the school day to end… I used to love watching that clock. Now… I don’t.
People always say that high school is one of the most challenging periods in one's life. In a way, they're right. It’s exhilarating and somber, passionate and painful, dreadful yet too short. Over the past three years, a lot has changed, but I think maybe that’s the best part. Maybe us adapting to that change had a way of revealing the parts of ourselves that we didn’t know resided within us or maybe we constructed that part ourselves. Either way, we aren't the same people who walked into those doors freshman year. No one ever is.
It’s peculiar how time works isn’t it? When we were children we wished to be teenagers and when we are finally teenagers we wish to be adults, and then when we’re dancing upon that brink between being a kid and becoming an adult… personally… I’d take it all back.
I spent years looking at that clock on the wall watching for the day to end and to free myself of the bounds of school. Looking back, all I want is to turn back the hands of that clock, wind it back day by day, hour by hour. But time only moves forward, it’s slow in those moments that we watch it, waiting for its hands to move, yet all of a sudden we are swept off of our feet and pushed forward into a period in which we’ve changed.
Throughout high school, we attended club meetings, went home to do homework, went to practice and repeated this cycle until the weekend, where we would go to work, come home, do chores, study, clean the house, do more homework, plan school events, exercise, and pray that we get over four hours of sleep at least once every week. Yet that’s life, or what it seemed like. I guess along the way I realized that that wasn’t life at all.
Life wasn’t about these routines and it wasn’t about counting down the minutes upon which those dull prolonged sessions that we can hardly recall ended. It was about the small moments that sparked a bit of joy and laughter within us. These sparks inhabit the mischievous glances between friends before racing down the halls, the moments with each other dancing on cliffs, having picnics in the park, riding bikes in the dark, throwing glitter at each other while making posters, and simply being near one another when we are half-asleep, at seven-thirty in the morning, in a brightly lit classroom. Being on that cliff, in that park, in this school, all with each other, that’s what life feels like to me. Everything else is the same, over and over and over again. Rinse and repeat, except for those little moments in between that dance between the crevices of my memories of derivatives and tectonic plates and covalent bonds. Those are the moments that count. Those are the memories that hold the things that are truly important… the things that make life worth living.
My point is this: these moments that we have matter. They matter because we don’t know how many we have left. We can’t take them for granted, because we are all on a clock, a clock that is ticking down, every day, with every action, every word, and every second, and none of us know how much time we have left. Time limits us, yet in a way, it also forces us to be present in the moment, to live every day, do something unexpected, something worth doing, and grow as human beings.
Maybe everything was moving so fast and we thought we were stuck in the same position but we weren’t. This whole time it wasn’t just about the memories, it was learning from them. And learning isn’t about the numbers that are engraved within our transcripts, it’s not our class rank, it’s not the grade that we see in PowerSchool, it’s the experiences that we have, the small gestures of kindness, the unexpected moments that make us feel a little more alive.
Watching that clock, watching it hour by hour, minute by minute, ticking by oh so slowly, that’s the worst mistake you can make. Sure, you’ll fail, succeed, you will hurt people, you will get hurt by people, you will feel defeated, and you will one day win, but to do these things, you have to stop looking at that clock. Just live, live in the small moments, live by the campfires, live in the woods, live in the big cities, and on those midnight drives, live within those little sparks that bring you joy and make you laugh, just live, just love. Look away from the clock… It's counting down anyway.
Student Government President
My fellow graduates, it is an honor to be speaking to all of you today.
Well, we did it. Or more like you did it. Each and every one of us has successfully completed one of the biggest milestones in our teen years. Graduating high school means not only that we get a piece of paper with our names on it that says we did, but it comes with a long, long list of memories and accomplishments.
Some say that our journey is just beginning but I believe that it started roughly 13 years ago in the beginning of September 2009. Yeah, you heard me 2009. Let me set the scene for you. Standing there waiting for the bus with your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, brother, or sister. The bus comes down the road flashing lights, it stops you get on, You're absolutely terrified. Like who do I sit with. These older kids are scary. That moment. That moment was where our journey began.
Then middle school happened. Moving through the years making new friends from all the other elementaries, gaining new experiences, and being challenged. These factors have shaped us into the people we are today. Skip ahead, skip ahead then 8th grade celebration happens …skip ahead. Then fall 2018 high school begins.
On day one of freshman year Mr. Connors took us outside on the sidewalk and made us look at school. He said something like “These next 4 years are going to fly by and you are going to be a senior tomorrow” well here we are it’s tomorrow and we are at graduation. The experiences we have had from homecoming games and dances, the carnival, pep rallies and parades, spirit weeks and 12 days of Christmas. If you haven't had fun at all the last 4 years, in my own opinion that's on you.
So as we are here today, final games played and meets finished. Some for the last time. Remember how you got here today.
So what's next? I will be going to college like many of my classmates, others into the service, some going to vocational school, or right into the workforce. This next step is going to be a big change. But this is what we have all been prepared for. We have all picked up skills and knowledge from our teachers, parents and friends. Most importantly we had help. From a famous song “Lean on me, when you're not strong”. We have unknowingly leaned on each other to get here today.
As I conclude I would like thank all coaches, teachers, faculty, staff and families. And to my fellow graduates I would like to leave you with some final words, as Whoopi Goldberg said “If you're willing to stand for what you believe in.. you won’t need advice from me, because you'll be able to handle whatever comes.”
This is our time to leave the nest…. It's time to fly….