OESJ graduates celebrate their shared experiences

Shown is the Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville graduating class of 2019. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

ST. JOHNSVILLE — The Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville graduating class of 2019 looked back on all the memories they shared including the merger that brought them together during the school district’s sixth annual commencement Friday.

Each one of the 52 students walked across the stage with a diploma in hand ready to start their futures.

“To my fellow classmates: We did it, my friends. We accomplished one of the first significant milestones in our lives. We are now high school graduates,” said Valedictorian Robert Snell. “Through hard work and determination, we were able to get to where we are today, and our work did not go to waste. High school was one of the first major journeys for us, where we officially became more competent, and willing to take more responsibility and challenge ourselves.”

Snell said he is one of the individuals who attended D.H. Robbins Elementary School in St. Johnsville where he made many connections with life-long friends.

“Inevitably, in middle school, we merged districts. To be completely frank, I was not sure how everything would turn out,” Snell said. “I think the adults had a tougher time adjusting than we did; the kids were able to get along and move forward. We became stronger as a school community and made many more life-long friends.”

Snell said they will now all go their separate ways, pursuing their careers or continuing their educations.

“Along the way we must stay true to who we are as well,” Snell said. “I ask you to stay true to who you are. Don’t ever let any negativity influence who you are, based on their pessimistic ideology.”

Salutatorian Christopher Swartz thanked all of his classmates, parents and teachers through the many obstacles and challenges he faced, and preparing him for his future.

“Finally I’d like to say a thank you to the class for everything coming through school, prior to the merger there was the experience that was nature’s classroom,” said Swartz. “Some of us have fond memories of that place. After the merger, we had the melting pot of a middle school class, and finally for the past year with all the antics of the senior trip and our last year before adulthood, the last thing I’m going to say is that I challenge you to become better versions of yourselves, not only to you but to those around you, and with this success will come.”

Superintendent Joseph Natale told the graduating class that their last act of endurance is sitting through a commencement.

He congratulated the class of 2019 and left them with some advice as they head into their futures.

“Do not sell yourself short. Take risks.Work hard and honestly at whatever job you have,” Natale said. “Class of 2019, this graduation is far from being the end, it is the beginning of tomorrow. Grab hold of that tomorrow and using what you have learned over the past four years to build a bright an shining future.”

By Paul Wager

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