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Schalmont seniors bid farewell to high school during graduation ceremony


More than 140 students from Schalmont's Class of 2017 will head into the world ready to continue their life-longStudent accepts diploma from Dr. Pallas learning after receiving their high school diplomas during the district's 60th graduation commencement ceremony at Proctors Theater in Schenectady on Friday, June 23. After four years at Schalmont High School, this group of seniors made it clear they were ready to begin making their mark on a rapidly changing world.

Heading into the World as Life-long Learners

"Today starts the continuation of your life-long learning in your post-graduation world," said Superintendent Dr. Carol Pallas to the audience at Proctors Friday night. "What will matter from this point forward is the work and effort you put into the next phase of your life."

2017 Gradate thanks high school prinicpal with a hugThe graduating class, dressed in white and green caps and gowns, listened intently as faculty, staff, and their fellow classmates offered words of wisdom, encouraging each of them to pursue what matters most to them. The ceremony began with welcoming remarks from the Masters of Ceremonies and Student Council Representatives Emilie Decker and Jake Defayette, followed by a performance by the school’s Wind Ensemble.

The Class of 2017's Salutatorian Alexis Horwedel then addressed her fellow classmates, congratulating them for all they have done, while pushing them to seize every opportunity that comes their way. She went on to quote Eminem, saying "you better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot," Horwedel echoed. "This opportunity comes once in a lifetime."

As is tradition, Board of Education President Michael Pasquarella offered some words of encouragement to the Class of 2017, as well. This ceremony was particularly meaningful to him this year, as his son, Anthony, was among the students waiting to receive diplomas on Friday. Anthony himself addressed the crowd later in the ceremony as Class President; offering his own words of encouragement and congratulations to his peers.Wind Ensemble plays at 2017 Schalmont Graduation

In a touching moment, Michael became a bit emotional while telling the students how it was only a few years ago that they were little kids stepping off the bus; standing here now as young adults ready to take on the world. His son received a big hug from his father as he walked across the stage to accept his diploma later in the evening.

Change is the Only Constant in Life

The concept of change was a major focus of the evening. Dr. Pallas told the graduating seniors they "should probably be used to change because you have grown up in a time of rapid change where the pace of new inventions and choices are moving at warp speed."

She pointed out that these teenagers grew up in a society that is more global, social, visual and technological than ever before - and they are among the more than 2 million young people born into a world of terrorism, global recession and climate change.

Student accepts diploma from assistant high school prinicpal"You are technologically saturated, digitally transformed, and expected to work for over 17 employers in 5 or more separate careers in your lifetime, probably working in jobs that don't currently exist. To be successful in this type of environment, you will need to constantly have an eye to the future," she added, telling them they would have to be ambitious and broad-minded with a strong work ethic and empathy for others.

Schalmont's Valedictorian Emily Torre also touched on the concept of change in her message to the class. She encouraged her peers to always look to the future while remembering where they came from. She reminisced on their first days of schools, and their journey that led them to this point.

She also reminded her classmates to be grateful for the people who helped get them to this point, saying that no one is able to accomplish everything on their own. Torre said that no matter how things changed as time progressed, nothing could take away from what she and her peers learned in the halls of Schalmont.

Do it Because You Believe in its Importance

Dr. Pallas advises graduates every year at commencement that whatever they do in life, "I hope you do it for noStudent listens to speakers at 2017 Schalmont Graduation other reason than because you love it and believe in its importance." There was no denying how important this moment was to the students, friends and family members who crowded into Proctors that night.

As students walked across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas, they greeted Board President Mike Pasquarella, Dr. Pallas, High School principal Imran Abbasi and Assistant HS principal Jacqueline Gordan.

Student addresses crowd durning 2017 graduation ceremonyThe ceremony wrapped up with the traditional switching of the tassels, which was conducted by Class Treasurer Timothy Ryan and Class Historian Zachary Gazzillo. With a loud cheer, the Class of 2017 was announced to the crowd, ending this foundational chapter of their lives. Now these students will go off their separate ways into the world, taking with them the lessons, memories and friends they made in the halls of Schalmont.

"Congratulations to you, the class of 2017" said Dr. Pallas. "We are all counting on you to live lives worthy of retelling, lives that will inspire the next generation."