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More than 170 students graduate from Massena High School


MASSENA - It was showtime for 171 Massena High School graduates on Saturday afternoon, as they finished one phase of their life and prepared to move on to the next.

Valedictorian Sarah K. Murphy, a veteran member of the school’s spring musical, equated the commencement ceremonies and the end of their high school career to the final 30 minutes before a show.

“William Shakespeare once wrote, ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’ After reflecting on this, I feel this quote fits our situation quite well,” she said.

Thirty minutes before the show, Ms. Murphy said, the cast and crew gather backstage, linking hands with each other.

“Everyone is included because each person is an integral part of the show, from the actors to the wardrobe crew, to everyone in between,” she said.

That correlation also applied to the seniors who were graduating on Saturday, according to Ms. Murphy, who will be heading to Harvard University to study Biology.

“We are all blessed with different talents, and we are called to use them to their fullest potential. Just as some of us were born with the skills that allowed us to perform as actors and crew members, others have been blessed with talents that will reveal themselves as we become the future doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, mechanics, soldiers, clerks and scientists of this country,” she said.

“Whatever field we may end up in, what matters most is that we do our very best and that we fulfill our potential, while still maintaining our beliefs and trying to make the world a better place. In that circle, we are all connected, and when the curtain rises, we put aside our personal problems in order to contribute to the common good,” Ms. Murphy said.

As time winds down to the show, it’s time for those involved to take the stage with their talents, either on the stage or behind the scenes.

“Our directors have given us all the tools we need to succeed. But ultimately, it will come down to the actors feeding off of one another; the sound and lights crews working in sync so everyone’s work will be amplified and illuminated; the running crew transporting sets as non-like as possible not to distract from the scene,” Ms. Murphy said.

When the five minutes to showtime mark rolls around, “months of work and preparation - in our case, 13 years - have come down to these final moments,” Ms. Murphy said.

“A wave of adrenaline shoots over the entire production, revitalizing those who have had little sleep from the grueling schedule. At times we felt like giving up. But quitting simply isn’t an option. It takes drive and determination to make it to curtain,. We are at that moment tested but victorious. The curtain will rise, and we won’t stop until our final bow. We will go out and give it everything we’ve got,” she said.

Sixty seconds left and “the moment of truth has come,” she said.

“We think about the fun times in rehearsal and the crazy things people said that we’ll remember for years to come. And we acknowledge the lows as well. The challenges, the disappointments, because everything we’ve experienced has helped shape us,” Ms. Murphy said.

“We stand now, in the wings of our own ‘stage,’ ready for our cue. We are a flurry of emotions - happiness and exhilaration, apprehension and uncertainty. In the penultimate moment, the orchestra starts to play, the curtains open and it’s finally showtime,” she said.

As ready as they are, though, it’s only the beginning, according to the valedictorian.

“We still have our entire show ahead of us. What we make of it is our own choosing. We can go out and give ourselves completely to the show, performing to our very prime, or we can hold back, move slowly and be afraid to take risks or expose ourselves to others. We all have the potential for success, but that success comes from hard work and determination to ensure that our performance is what we want it to be,” she said. “We have our lines, our cues, our costumes and directions,” Ms. Murphy told her classmates. “Now it’s our time to go perform.”

Salutatorian Molli M. Richards, in her address to classmates, reflected back on their time in high school.

“We were the first class to attend Freshman Academy, as well as the first class to benefit from the capital project including the new cafeteria, gym, track and turf,” she said.

Ms. Richards, who will be studying abroad in London for her first semester, said those sitting in front of her had formed a connection over the years.

“I never thought these four years would be over but here we are. After all, 13 is typically an unlucky number but we have obviously overcome that stigma. We have made 13 the classy number in some interesting ways. We have strong connections with each other which I think is one of the main purposes of high school,” she said.

They stood together when it was important, such as when the school’s hockey team made it to the state final four. Ms. Richards said sports teams, Link Crew members and students planned the trip to Utica to support the team.

“Those are important interactions that show true success,” she said.

“You all care about something, whether its sports or fashion or even a band and that makes you unique and interesting,” Ms. Richards said. “Caring and being excited about something will get you far. And when I say get you far, I mean bring you happiness. I don’t know what I’m going to major in or what my career will be but I know that if I stay excited about life, I will be happy. I wish you all happiness above all.”

She compared their time together to the end of a television show.

“A friend once told me there is a unique pain to ending a TV series, kind of like the feeling today. When there are no more episodes on Netflix, there is a little emptiness inside of you. But our series will continue on and seemingly never end. The best part of each of our stories hasn’t been written yet. We can sit down with popcorn or ice cream and catch up with one another, but we will all become our own people and we must first and foremost focus on ourselves,” she said.

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