E-TC grads hailed for 'compassion'
EWEN — Twenty graduates turned their tassels from right to left after receiving diplomas at Ewen-Trout Creek High School’s 46th annual commencement ceremony Friday night in Ewen.
The class was hailed by E-TC staff members as hard-working, determined and goal-oriented.
“This class has been especially a pleasure to work with in terms of achieving the goals they’ve set for themselves,” class advisor April Syria said. “Whether it was a homecoming project or personal goals, they were very on target.”
Music teacher and boys basketball coach Brad Besonen, who was chosen by the class to be graduation speaker, echoed those sentiments, saying “toughness and determination” and strong character were what helped the class succeed through the years.
Besonen said the students had endured tough times, especially since fifth grade, when the E-TC school district had a deficit of $1 million. In later years, some of the classmates went through large, tough life changes that some adults can’t get through, Besonen said. Despite it all, “The positive attitude of the students stayed rock solid,” he said.
The students were also a caring bunch. “They’ve always shown great love and compassion to fellow classmates, underclassmen and staff at E-TC,” Besonen said.
Besonen referred to a quote by former college basketball coach Jim Valvano citing the importance of laughter, thoughts and tears in day-to-day life.
“There have been countless moments of laughter” with the class, Besonen said, adding he had many thoughtful conversations with the students and shared tears with them on occasion.
He also imparted advice on the students: “Be sure to laugh, spend time in thought, and don’t be afraid to be moved to tears,” he said. “Never be satisfied with just being average. There is greatness in every one of you.”
The ceremony included speeches from salutatorian Drake Lindberg, student council president Dillon Gordon and valedictorian Zoey McGeshick, and a performance of Nickelback’s “Photograph” by senior Rebecca Hemming.
Lindberg reflected on the class’s time, saying they’ve spent 18,720 hours together through their years at E-TC. He said the class is moving on to bigger and better things. “We must use our talents and skills to better ourselves and the world,” Lindberg said.
Gordon thanked English teacher Dave Polkky for giving him tips on public speaking, adding that it was “always fun” in Polkky’s classroom through the years. Gordon, a talented basketball player, thanked the E-TC Booster Club for donating funds and continuing to support athletic programs at the school. He also thanked classmate Hemming, who served as the basketball team’s manager.
“I’m going to miss all you guys, as you’ve all made my time here at E-TC memorable and enjoyable,” he told his classmates.
The seniors repeatedly thanked their families, teachers and friends for helping them become who they are today.
“Graduation isn’t just a time to celebrate the graduates, but also to thank those who helped us get here,” McGeshick said. She thanked her mother for everything she has done, tearing up in an emotional moment before thanking the rest of her family.
The students presented 10 teachers with gifts of appreciation. “Our class is grateful for the impact each of you has made in our lives,” Lindberg said.
“To the teachers of E-TC, thank you for pushing us to do our best, whether we wanted to or not,” McGeshick said.
Superintendent Loren Vannest presented the class of 2013 to the audience before E-TC Board of Education President Kirk Schott presented students with their diplomas.
The ceremony also included a class video, with old class photos and candid student pictures, photos of students as youngsters and as seniors, and video of times spent together at homecoming events, the senior banquet and other events.
E-TC staff members said many times that the class will be missed. “I will miss their spontaneity and confidence the most,” Syria said. “They’re very close and I think we’re all going to miss them a great deal.”