The sun did shine on the Cooperstown High School Class of 2017 on Sunday, but only after showering graduates and guests in a downpour of rain during the processional.
Seniors lined the edge of the terrace of the Fenimore Art Museum under ominous skies as friends and family members filed in before the start of the 138th annual commencement ceremony.
Umbrellas sprouted from the audience as the graduates took their positions and prepared for the processional. The seniors were splashed with fat raindrops as they walked to take their seats, with cheers and applause breaking out as the shower turned to a steady downpour.
But as if on cue, the sun broke through the clouds to shine briefly down as the administrators took their positions on the dais.
As Dr. William Crankshaw delivered his welcome, he gestured toward the heavens, reminding graduates and those in the audience that “This, too, shall pass.”
Crankshaw invited the assembled guests to join him in celebrating learning, growth and becoming, thanking Director of Student Programs and Athletics James Brophy, and Secondary Principal Donna Lucy, who joined him on the dais along with Board of Education president Dr. Theresa J. Russo.
Crankshaw also signaled for a moment of silence to remember “those who are no longer with us,” and heads were bowed in respectful silence.
Crankshaw referred to commencement as a “kick start” for the Class of 2017, and reminded them of the privilege of being from Cooperstown, and the graduates’ responsibility to work toward building community.
Following Crankshaw’s remarks, senior speakers Regina B. Lassiter, Lindsay Ellen Brown, Christianna Joy Ming Hwei Fisk and Margaret Isabelle Knight took the stage to deliver remarks.
Lassiter drew a laugh from the audience as the welcomed friends, family and “any confused tourists,” pointing toward Main Street and saying, “The Hall of Fame’s that way.”
Lassiter went on to encourage her classmates to be judicious in the advice they heed, recalling “a certain silver-haired history teacher who dispenses daily aphorisms.”
Brown reminded her classmates that they have been “encouraged to shoot for the stars” since elementary school days, even as they weathered the challenges of middle school and high school together as a class.
Fisk spoke of stories, encouraging her classmates to make a difference with their stories.
“Life is brimming with the promises we make to ourselves,” she said.
And Knight spoke of spreading wings and flying — leaving the comfort zone of high school to begin a new journey.
“The time for migration has come,” Knight said.
Before the presentation of prizes, the administration recognized Michael Cring, and the contributions he has made to the Class of 2017.
Principal Donna Lucy encouraged the graduates to “take a deep breath and soak it all in — the rain, too.
“Go forth, be bold, take risks, be part of creating the change you want to see in the world,” Lucy said.
The sun peeked through the clouds once more as awards were presented to the graduates, and finally, as the last few diplomas were handed out, it burst forth and shone warmly on the Class of 2017.
Class President Ginger Miller concluded the ceremony with her remarks.
“We have made it, but we did not do it alone,” she said. “And the friendships and connections we have made here will always be with us.”
As the graduates filed from their seats to stand in the center aisle, Miller presented the Cooperstown High School Class of 2017 to cheers and applause. As caps flew into the air, the high school band played one last time, sending the seniors into the arms of family and friends.