Grimshaw offers advice to Canjo graduates

Students are all smiles as they take the stage for the Canajoharie Central School Class of 2019 commencement Friday night in the high school auditorium. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

CANAJOHARIE — Canajoharie Central School District Superintendent Deborah Grimshaw urged graduating high school students of the Class of 2019 to have fun Friday night during commencement, like they’re used to doing anyway.

“As a group, you are fun,” the superintendent told the class. “You are quite comfortable with who you are.”

Dressed in basic black, a total of 82 graduates received diplomas in the school’s 141st Annual Commencement in the Arkell Performing Arts Center.

“You control your destiny,” Grimshaw told the graduates. “Our school staff is so proud of you.”

But she urged the graduates not to forget their family members who helped them get to graduation day. Grimshaw said she was “not surprised” that 100 percent of the Class of 2019 indicated plans for the future.

“This evening, you become alumni of Canajoharie Central School,” the superintendent said.

Grimshaw told the graduates to “make themselves proud.”

Grimshaw, who is retiring as of Sunday, oversaw her final graduation ceremony at Canajoharie.

In his speech, Valedictorian Derek Countryman, headed to Elmira College, quoted Steve Jobs and told fellow graduates that “everything will work out in the end.”

“I want every single person in this auditorium, young and old, to take a moment and think about where you are today and see if its a place you want to stay or is it motivation to continue to work hard,” Countryman said. “Regardless of where you are in your life you must always take the time to enjoy life because we’re all people and life is beautiful. And I know that I’m not perfect and nobody else is so while the Class of 2019 is still young, let’s enjoy the best summer yet.”

Salutatorian Abigail Smith, who is going to Wells College, helped the class reflect on years in Canajoharie that helped shape the graduates.

“Our elementary years were filled with childish actions, imagination, playgrounds and nap time,” she said. “God, I miss naptime … Middle school was where we were finally given a taste of high school freedom … High school was full of upperclassmen and freedom. Everyone had been waiting for these four years for what seemed like forever.”

“As we embark on our future, let’s not forget to appreciate the past, the people and experiences that helped us reach our goal,” Smith said. “Today we are the goal scorers …”

High School Principal Rebecca Gleason presented the Canajoharie Hall of Fame honor to Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Ortell, a Class of 1982 graduate, pilot and Gulf War veteran. He spoke to the graduates about believing in themselves.

Board of Education Vice President Scott Ferguson presented scholarships.

Class President Jared Bentz presented a song, accompanied by his guitar.

The Processional, “Star Spangled Banner” and Recessional were done by the Jazz Ensemble. Other music included “Count on Me” and “Walk a Little Slower, My Friend” by Company of Song. The Jazz Ensemble also presented a separate selection under the direction of Timothy Field.

Board of Education President Mark Brody presented diplomas to the graduates.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Paul Wager

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