“You’re watching history,” said Mohawk High School Senior Class President Lindsey LeClair. “We truly are the last of the Mohicans.”
Prior to the ceremony in the Jarvis High School gymnasium, the covers of and photographs from past Mohawk yearbooks were projected onto the gymnasium walls. Retired teachers attended the ceremony, many of them processing into the gymnasium. The graduates entered through an arch of orange, black and white balloons. In September, the underclassmen will be attending the new Central Valley Academy in Ilion while Jarvis School will become a middle school for grades 5-8. The school colors will no longer be orange and black, either. Students have chosen light blue, navy blue, and white with a gold accent as the colors for the Central Valley Thunder.
But while “Last of the Mohicans” was a common theme at Friday’s commencement, so was the future of the final class to graduate from Mohawk Central School.
Mohawk School Board President Vicki Coffin-Judd invited the graduates to look back at something from their childhoods that brought them great happiness. “Find a way to make it your life, your passion,” she said.
Judd pointed out that James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, “Last of the Mohicans,” takes place in a time of great changes and uncertainty and that is what the graduates of 2013 will be facing. “You will be the change you wish to see in the world today,” she said.
“You guys are the end of the line,” said faculty speaker Roy Upson. “It’s all too easy to focus on that fact, but that’s not why we’re here.
He said he had taught and/or coached most of the members of the class and shared memories about individual students - “Logan and Anthony, arguing; Caitlin Briggs, getting 100 after 100 on tests; Laura Mikus, leading the class in kills in Military History 2.”
Upson said he was not pleased when he first learned he would be teaching a freshman class the year the class of 2013 entered high school. “All I knew about ninth graders was that they didn’t wear deodorant and they were slightly older junior high students.”
He found that the class was “not bad” and later revised that assessment up to “good” and then “great.” He said the class had personality and a sense of humor. “We always covered the material and we always laughed in the process.”
Upson told the graduates they were entering the game of life where there are no time outs. “Hold your head high, never say die,” he told the graduates. “Get up and make it work.”
Valedictorian Caitlin Briggs urged her classmates to use the foundation they have built through hard work, teamwork and problem solving and to add to that foundation as they move into their future.
Page 2 of 2 - Salutatorian Lindsay LaBarge recalled a bit of the school district’s history. The first school in Mohawk was built in 1808 and three students made up the first class to graduate high school here. The class of 2013 is more than the “Last of the Mohicans,” she said. “We’re small in number, but outstanding in sheer talent.”
She offered a quote from the 2008 film, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” in which the title character says in a letter to his daughter, “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it… I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”