WAYLAND — The flow of gowns and tassels all in red shown with pride as the Wayland-Cohocton Eagles Class of 2019 soared into the field house one last time.
On Sunday, the families, friends, faculty and community were able to see 116 proud graduates make that final walk to get their diplomas.
Wayland-Cohocton High School Principal Josie Steiner gave a moving speech about the future of the graduates.
“I truly wish we would’ve been able to spend a little more time together. I can only imagine how your parents must feel having raised you from birth. I remember when I first met Josh Fleishman as he gave me a tour on my first day. I thought if the rest of them are anything like this kid, then this is a fine group of students,” she said. “You are a hardworking group. I am sure you have grown so much over the years. I hope you will continue to grow as life is meant to be a never-ending cycle of risk taking and sometimes failing.”
“The real goal of education is to not make you dependent on us forever. It is the exact opposite. We need to ensure you are equipped and independent and able to take care of yourself. We want you to go out and win courageously. We know you can handle adversity and rise to the challenges,” Steiner continued. “I want you to go work a really hard job. I want you to take a really difficult class. I want you to know what it is like to do physical or mental labor. I want you to appreciate earning a dollar the hard way. There is so much about working on a farm that I hated, but it taught me hard work.”
Steiner added she wants the graduates to go out into the world and see how others live their lives in struggling countries.
“It is very likely you will not be selected for the top choice in every job you get. You might not get every promotion you were hoping for. When this happens I hope you won’t make excuses, blame someone else, or give up. I hope you will think about how to make yourself better,” she said. “I remember being denied a job when I was young. I remember my dad telling me I needed to get over it, be smarter, work harder, and be stronger. You can’t develop perseverance if you struggle just a little bit. Go out and see real actual need in the world. Some of you have not had an easy life, and I have admired your resilience. Even so, I want you to see beyond yourself and go to where there is real struggling. There is always someone out there who struggles more than you.”
Wayland-Cohocton High School Chorus performed “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Leeann Perkowski had been asked by her student peers to give a powerful speech on what the last four years has meant to all of them.
“My fellow graduates of the Class of 2019. Today we celebrate the special milestone of High School Graduation. Looking out at all of you with your wizard gowns and caps with cat toys hanging off of them has me thinking … how did we get here? This is the moment we have all been waiting for,” she said. “Personally, I am very glad to say that growing up with all of you for the last 13 years has been a brilliant experience. Together we have had the best of times. We have had the worst of times. Half of the time we were all like a deer in headlights.”
“We are a class like no other. It is no doubt that we left our mark on the halls of WCCS. Join me if you will on a journey through high school as we experienced it,” Perkowski continued. “We begin in freshman year when we were all obnoxious running through the halls since we knew we would get detention, but we calmed down during homecoming since we knew our place as the underdogs. These were the days we were actually excited for high school. I don’t remember anything specific about sophomore year. Freshman year is special because it is the first year, senior year is special because it is the last. Junior year is special because it is the hardest. No one ever talks about sophomore year.”
Perkowski talked about some moments that meant a lot to her and the classmates she will miss on life’s journey.
“The point is the Class of 2019 goes big or goes home. We don’t believe in half way. Mediocre isn’t even in our vocabulary. Over the course of next year we all need to adjust to a new way of life,” she said. “Our days here at WCCS are gone, and we are going to have to learn to do our own laundry, cook our dinner, and care for ourselves when we are sick. We will meet our roommates and that is the moment we will realize that beds stacked on top of each other leave room for more activities. We all had a fun time here, but it is time for us all to move on. To the class of 2019 I want to thank you for the memories, the laughs, the rebellions, lifelong friendships, and so much more.”
Wayland-Cohocton Valedictorian Makala Meyers gave her speech to fellow graduates about the future.
“We stand here today having experienced many things. Four presidential elections, three presidents, and prosperity in times of need. Now we have the world to be our own. As Charles Dickens said, ‘we have seen the worst of times, and the best of times.’ We have been together for all that we can remember,” she said. “Now we must all go our separate ways, and all have the ability to make our mark on the world. This graduating class may seem like an insignificant percentage of society, but we are enough to make a difference. It took one person to end slavery. One person to make equal rights for all mankind. One man to embark on the unknown through space exploration. It only takes one person to start a revolution.”
“I would like everyone to look around. Sitting in this very room are future doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses, first responders, politicians, and we might even have a future president. Our goals and aspirations are closer than we could ever imagine,” Meyers continued. “Reach for the stars and believe in yourself. Anything is possible with determination and perseverance. We haven’t all had identical journeys, but they all came from Wayland-Cohocton.”
In August of 2018 a new student came to the community from Austria. Tabea Nothnagel, a foreign exchange student, was given an American Flag.
The Robert J. Crownie Spirit of the Eagle Awards went to Cheyanne Carney and Owen Snyder.
Every Class of 2019 graduate was presented with the Good Book, which has all the accomplishments they made over the last four years.
Wayland-Cohocton Class of 2019 joining the military: Cody Baltz, US Army; Derek Cheasman, US Marines; Nathen Smalt, US Navy; and Owen Snyder, US Army ROTC.
Wayland-Cohocton Eagles Class of 2019: Kiara Ackley, Evan Adriance, Dylan Aldrich, Kyle Allen, Caleb Allison, Jasper Allison, Destiny Anderson, Zachery Babbitt, Amber Babcock, Tyler Bailey, Emma Baker, Cody Baltz, Audrianna Barnard, Robert Belanger, Christina Bill, Jamie Braziel, Delaney Brehm, Ashley Brooker, Tristen Bugbee, Holden Bump, Morgan Burritt, Cheyanne Carney, Colton Caves, Phreedom Chapman, Derek Cheasman, Ryan Damboise, Allie David, Everett Davison, Brandon DeGuarde, Alexandrea Duclos, Michelle Dunham, Jordan Earley, Eric Ebert, Ryan Ebert, Damien Eldridge, Connor Englert, Dakota Fairbrother, Joshua Fleishman, Evan Conte, Breanna Foster, Asher Fox, Johnathan Freberg, Colton Garrett, Renee Garrison, Jayson Gascon, Dylon George, Madison Gregorius, Madison Grey, Haylee Hall, Tayler Hart, Daniel Harter, Holani Harvey, Cameron Haupt, Benjamin Hawkins, Sophia Holmes, Ja’mil Horner, Lauren Hughes, Charles Hunt Jr., Reese Hunt, Hannah James, Garrett Kelledy, Charlotte Kennedy, Dustin Kesel, Kevin Klimm, Mackenzie Kota, Ryam Kramer, Jasmine Lang, Dominic LaPlant, Levi Lazarus, Colin Leonard, Nicholas Levee, Douglas Lippens Jr., David Magin, Austin Mark, Israel McClure, Gavin McCormick, Skylar McGregor, Cole Mehlenbacher, Evyn Meldrum, Tristen Merrill, Makala Meyers, Allison Micglire, Christopher Simonowicz, Justin Natrigo-Gonzalez, Hannah Neitz, Tabea Nothnagel, Ashley Page, Leeann Perkowski, Misty Pragle, Thomas Rawleigh, Braydon Reamer, Keeghan Savior, Dakota Burns, Joseph Schrader, Christopher Shanley Jr., James Shepard, Nathen Smalt, Samantha Smalt, Natasha Smith, Owen Snyder, Halie St. Martin, Gabriel Stenziano, Chandler Stevenson, Chantel Teed, Toby Torrey, Cole West, Savanna Wheeler, Genny Wilkinson, Mikel Willis, Sally Wolfanger, Colton Wood, Thomas Worden, Tyler Young, William Young, and Cody Zigenfus.