Graduation is by its nature a time of transition, and this past Friday night's Sunnyside High School commencement exercises were no exception.
The evening opened with applause for school board member Joanne Kilian, who is resigning this year after 32 years on the board.
Kilian, of course, isn't the only one leaving the Sunnyside School District, as 257 graduates received their diplomas. Appropriately enough, the sheepskin was distributed by Kilian at her final SHS graduation as school board member.
In his remarks to the class, Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole commended graduates for their leadership. As an example, he noted that during the 2008-09 school year, the high school's wall of fame was re-started. He encouraged the class of 2009, that in 10 or 15 years some of them may be members of the hall that started anew during their senior year.
The idea of looking forward while honoring the past was also captured by co-salutatorians Megan Tyler and Henedina Tavares, who recalled memories of their classmates and looked ahead to college life.
Valedictorian Jacob Rogers reminded his classmates, "We have the ability to be great." Rogers said the class of 2009 experienced adversity "not seen in years past."
Rogers encouraged his fellow graduates to follow their dreams, noting "tonight is proof you can succeed."
On the eve of the 45th anniversary of D-Day, faculty speaker Wayne Cone recalled the "greatest generation" of WWII in binding together to fight a common foe.
Cone said the class of 2009 has a chance to be the "greatest generation," as the nation battles financial struggles.
Further, Cone reminded the class that "with great challenges come opportunities for great achievement."
Above all, Cone encouraged graduates to enjoy life.
"Make fun part of the master plan," he said. "Do what you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life."
Cone's speech was followed by the distribution of nearly $1.8 million in scholarships and awards to the class of 2009. See a related article in this section for the list of award recipients.
In awards announced publicly for the first time, Steven Romero was named the male athlete of the year for his wrestling achievements at the State tourney.
Megan Tyler was named female athlete of the year for competing in three sports for each of her four years at the high school.
Capping the special recognition portion of the ceremony were Tristan Abbott and Virginia Frausto earning the senior boy and girl awards, respectively.
As if on cue, a fresh wind blew in to Clem Senn Field during the senior scholarship and award presentations, whisking away muggy heat and the threat of rain.
A fresh wind for the class of 2009's best and brightest.
A fresh wind to carry SHS graduates to their future in Sunnyside and beyond, even as they remembered past accomplishments.