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graduation

June 28, 2020 - 2:16pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in Batavia HS, graduation, news, Class of 2020, covid-19.

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(Pictured above are slats of wood engraved by BHS teacher Bob Mullen from the gym floor that is being replaced currently. Each graduate received one today.)

A ceremony at Daniel A. Van Detta Stadium was originally planned for the Batavia High School Class of  2020, but with many changes to the governor’s weekly COVID-19 update, that plan was changed.

Today's outdoor ceremony was divvied up into six separate mini graduations with each senior joined by a couple of family members.

Opening remarks were made by Student Council co-mayors Lydia Wahr and Macayla Burke, and by English teacher Kimberly Przybysz, who was chosen by the National Honor Society to give the commencement speech.

The co-mayors presented Principal Paul Kesler with the Dundee Award (in a nod to the TV show "The Office") on behalf of the Class of 2020 in honor of being a supportive principal who succeeded at keeping the rite of graduation close to home.

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Above, Batavia City School District Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr.

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(Photo above: BHS Principal Paul Kesler)

Immediately following the seniors' event were half hour graduating sessions with social distancing for the Class of 2020 near the historic big tree in front of BHS.

Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. addressed the graduates but especially parents who wore many different hats after the pandemic shutdown in mid-March: principal, teacher, counselor, social worker.

“Take this setback as an opportunity to make a comeback and make the Class of 2020 historic," Soler said. "Be grateful with the time you spent time with family the last 100-plus days, because at the end of the day that is what truly matters because, to the right and left of you, they got you to the finish line. We are Batavia.”

Principal Kesler told the crowd that nobody has experienced anything like this -- coronavirus -- in their lifetime and he expressed gratitude for his staff and students who had to battle adversity to learn online.

These teens, Kesler noted, although disappointed about missing traditional senior events, were grateful for all their blessings -- the support of friends, school staff, family and life in a free country.

This unique group is "part of a thoughtful generation that loves and values people even more than generations that came before us,"Kesler said. "Above all, you will show love and appreciation for all of those that come across your path, I will truly miss you and am very proud of you, Class of 2020.

Prerecorded speeches were given by the Valedictorian and Salutatorian for five out of six scheduled ceremonies but then both were made in person at their scheduled times.

Valedictorian Andrew Lin maintained a 101.497 cumulative grade-point average throughout high school; plus he achieved a perfect score on the ACT assessment, which has not been done in 15-plus years. A three-sport varsity athlete, Andrew served four years in student government, was active in his community, and will attend MIT this fall to study Computer Engineering. 

Andrew spoke about the Class of 2020 high school years from freshman to high school, and the changes and obstacles members will remember, forged by adversity and resilience.

"In a few short months we will be spread out all over the country, blazing our own futures, continuing to change the realm just like we did in high school -- making friends, taking new interests, expecting challenge and meeting new people," Andrew said. "I leave you with this quote, 'Don’t forget where you came from but always remember where you're going.'

"Batavia High School is our home. We are all behind you; supporting you as your future awaits you."

Salutatorian Lydia Geiger graduates with two honors -- the prestigious elite honors program at The Hochstein School of Music, and with today's advanced regents diploma at Batavia High School with a 101.021 grade-point average.

Lydia has volunteered many hours in the community. She has also participated in every musical program during all four years at BHS. She will further her education at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam this fall.

Lydia talked about how the class was born to be resilient in the wake of 9/11 and is now graduating in the midst of a global pandemic.

"We look to have the faith when we look through the window even when we see the broken glass," she said. "As time goes on, we fall into living in patterns, going through the motions in the dark, and when the light comes on we don’t always have the perspective of what should be. But who defines what should be?

"The vision of life events that should be, that we create in our minds is not reality. With every passing moment we are putting together the puzzle pieces and this journey we call life. As more of this picture has become evident, we have realized that they’re was a greater purpose."

To view or purchase photos, click here.

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Valedictorian Andrew Lin

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Salutatorian Lydia Geiger

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May 20, 2018 - 9:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, graduation, news, notify.

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More than 900 Genesee Community College students have completed their degrees in the past 12 months and today about 225 of them accepted their diplomas in a commencement service that also marked the yearlong celebration of GCC's 50th anniversary.

Kristina M. Johnson, Ed.D., chancellor, State University of New York, gave the commencement address. She focused on a theme of commitments -- commitment to be optimistic and persistent, commitment to being kind, commitment to community and charity, and a commitment to a sustainable environment.

Johnson started off with the story of her mother, whose father died when she was 9. Her mother's mother died in the middle of the Great Depression; Johnson's mother was in high school when this happened, and she was left to raise her two younger brothers alone. Eventually, she married and raised seven children. At age 60, Johnson's mother was finally able to return to school.

"If not for a community college she would have been able to pursue her passion to further her education," Johnson said. "Many of you are like my mom. You had to juggle lives, careers, family and all of the other responsibilities that go along with being contributing members of our very busy society, so today we’re here to celebrate you."

Johnson then told the story of one of her own young-life struggles. At age 22, while training for an attempt to make the U.S. Olympic team, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which in 1979 was rarely curable.

"Imagine at 22 staring down a life of not surviving past 24," Johnson said.

When she started treatment, she went into a clinic for the first time and met two sisters, probably in their 60s. They had survived together in a Japanese internment camp and they were tough.

Johnson sat down and one of them said to her, "Is this your first time?"

Johnson wanted to know how she knew and the woman said, "because you look scared."

"I was crushed because truly I was scared," Johnson said. "I didn't know what to expect. I didn’t know if it would hurt. I didn’t know if I would be able to compete in my sport. I didn’t know if the treatments would work."

Weeks went by with Johnson continuing treatment and by now she was a veteran, having settled into the routine. One afternoon, in the waiting room, again with the two sisters, another woman came in and sat down. Johnson asked her if she was new.

"Yes, how did you know?" the woman replied.

"I looked up at the two sisters and I winked," Johnson said. “'Well,' I said, 'you weren’t here yesterday and we’re all here at the same time every day so it has to be your first time.' I then proceeded to walk her through what was going to happen next.

"I could see the fear I had felt and I said to her, ‘think of something nice.’ She got up, she walked out of the waiting room, and before she walked in (to the next room), she turned around and looked at me and she said -- "

At this point, Johnson stopped. With hundreds and hundreds of people in the Call Arena, there wasn't a whisper, a ruffle of paper, a snap of a shutter or the squeak of a chair. Silence as far as the ear could hear.

Johnson composed herself, "She said, 'I'm going to think of you.'"

Johnson said she can never tell the story without becoming emotional.

That became one of the greatest memories of my life because on that day I chose to be kind," Johnson said. "There didn’t seem to be any other choice but to be kind without expecting anything in return."

From these lessons, Johnson encouraged the students to commit to optimism and to be persistent no matter what they encounter in life.

"I remain a committed, if not obnoxious, optimist," she said.

She also told students to commit to kindness but to also accept themselves without judgment.

"While you’re busy practicing kindness toward others, I want you to do one other thing," she said. "I want you to be kind to yourself."

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Charlie Cook, CEO of Liberty Pumps, was honored by the Alumni Association for his charitble support of the college.

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To purchase prints, click here.

June 26, 2017 - 11:14am

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A graduating class of 170 students received their diplomas from Batavia High School yesterday in a ceremony held at Genesee Community College.

Superintendent Chris Dailey said 72 percent of the class is pursuing higher education, including 46 going directly to four-year colleges, 11 will attend a post-secondary school, 75 will go to a community college and 21 students are entering the workforce already with jobs, plus 11 students are going into the military.

Of the 170 graduates, 159 are receiving regent’s diplomas, 39 of them with various advanced honors.

To view and purchase photos click here: http://steveognibenephotography.zenfolio.com/p681207694

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Principal Scott Wilson opening the ceremony.

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Batavia High School Spanish teacher Jennifer Korpanty delivers the keynote speech.

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Valedictorian Campbell Anderson

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Salutatorian Maggie Cecere

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Batavia City School District Superintendent​ Christopher Dailey #takecareofbcsd

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Batavia Board President Patrick Burk

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Sam Bartz receiving his diploma from Batavia City School District Superintendent​ Christopher Dailey.

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Batavia Board of Education Member Peter Cecere giving his daughter Salutatorian Maggie Cecere her diploma.

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April 25, 2008 - 2:52pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, history, graduation, The Batavian.

It's June 22, 1895. The front page of The Batavian — a newspaper of the times — tells the simple story of a high school graduation, titled: "Sweet Girl Graduates."

"Radiant as the rosy morn was the graduating maiden of the Batavia Academy Thursday night. In ravishing costume and with brightened eye and blooming cheek she stepped on the rostrum of the opera house and with all the glamour that surrounds the pomp and panoply of war pulsing in her heart she gazed into the proud eyes of parents and friends and an immense concourse of people, and in the midst of showers of beautiful flowers was thrown into a dreamy ecstasy of delight."

It's no surprise the author has eyes only for such maidens. Batavia Academy's graduating class in 1895 consisted of 13 girls and a meager four boys. Where were all the young Batavian men at the turn of the century? Were they too good — or no good — for study? Ravaged by war? Bound by the ox to the farm?

No matter. This article's author had no need for them. Full of that very same poetic excess, he describes a few of the young ladies who especially caught his eye. Such as:

"Miss Flora Van de Venter is a piquant, fair-haired girl, with expressive eyes and a complexion that suggests peaches and cream. Her essay was captioned 'Fun and Philosophy of Mother Goose,' but there was nothing frivolous about it, though nicely spiced with humor."

And let us not forget "Miss Florence Quirk, a tangle-tressed maiden in white, (who) gave a learned essay, which evinced deep research."

Or in an article on the same front page (under "Town Topics: Seen and Heard in the Daily Current of Batavia Life").

"The summer girl is with us again. Arrayed in delicate tissue gown and jaunty straw hat, she rides through the streets in all her glory these pleasant evenings. With fan or parasol in hand she graces the piazza or the streets as she makes her periodical visits to the soda fountain. What would the druggist do without the summer girl? But it befits us all to be duly and honestly grateful for the blessing. For the summer girl is a blessing."

It must have been a long, lonely winter.

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