PERRY — As it leaves the Alexander Central School District, to the Class of 2020 to put others ahead of itself.
That was one of the priorities class Valedictorian Eden Dodge passed along to her fellow graduates during Saturday afternoon’s ceremony at Silver Lake Twin Drive-In.
“My fellow classmates, we are leaving the comfort and security of our school and homes, going out into the world amidst a global pandemic and uncertain future,” she said. “Rather than lamenting the failure of our expectations and fearing what will be missing from our lives, let us think less about ourselves and more about what we can do for others. In his inaugural address, John F. Kennedy spoke the famous words ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,’ but I say, think not only of what you can do for your country, or for yourselves, think of what you can do for each other.”
Now is the time to stop focusing so much time and energy on appearances, entertainment, even jobs and finances, Dodge said.
Salutatorian Dylan Busch said he and his classmates have done things and made memories over the past few months that nobody could have ever predicted.
“We are the first class in a hundred years that has not been able to finish out their senior year and have a normal prom and graduation,” he said. “Still, we managed to make the best of the situation we were given with the help of generous community members delivering us care packages, teachers changing their whole method of teaching in a short time and even parades in our honor. Our caring friends, family and neighbors found the time to help us out and cheer us up after we had the last months of our last year of high school taken away from us.”
Some graduates will be doctors, teachers, mechanics or managers, along with a countless amount of other essential jobs, Busch said, but all need to be great community members, family members and friends.
In his address to students, teacher Johnny Lucas recalled a couple of things that happened outside the classroom.
“One time, some of these kids drove out to my house in North Tonawanda just to use my bathroom,” he said. “Another time, when some more of these kids drove to teachers’ houses to thank them, I raced Taylor Fletcher, and I won, and it wasn’t close. This class is very lovable, and I know that you will find beautiful paths forward and lead amazing lives. You all deserve every good thing that will come your way, and myself (and this amazing community) will always be here for you, whenever you need.”
Lucas said he made a small list of things he thinks will lead to an awesome life:
• Follow the golden rule. Treat people how you want to be treated and good things will come your way.
• Don’t look back or forward too much. Live in the present moment.
• Live the life that you want to lead. At the end of the day, you should follow your own heart.
After the ceremony ended, graduates shared their thoughts on this past spring and on graduation day.
“We thought about sports being canceled first and that was a big deal to most students. but, most of all, it stunk,” said Ashley Stanley, who would have competed in track.
Of graduation Saturday, she said, “I liked it. It wasn’t bad — a little bit of a walk, though.”
Classmate Taylor Fletcher said, “The way the school planned everything, it (Saturday’s ceremony) was a lot better than nothing.”
Jim and Jane Steel of Amherst, Stanley’s grandparents, said the weather turned out great and that Silver Lake was a great place to have the ceremony.
“I think it was excellent. The drive-in should be commended for what they did,” Jim Steel said. “It was a unique experience for the graduates.
Steel said he liked the drive-in better than the school auditorium, which was used in past graduations.
“For what they (the school district and seniors) had to overcome this year, this was a unique experience,” he said.