December 1, 2021

Groton grads finish as a family

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Senior Ashley Newel, left, hugs her classmate Jon DeForrest on Saturday during Groton High School’s commencement processional in the school gym.

Paul Brecht was standing in the school gymnasium Saturday with his Groton High School classmates, but his thoughts were planted firmly in 2004.

“Since we first came together, I knew we were special,” said Brecht, who plans to attend Ithaca College to study sports media. “There’s a bunch of great people, great athletes and intelligent people.”

The class became a family, learning and growing in the same building and they were finally saying good-bye as they gathered with family and staff for the district’s 140th graduation.

Most of the students will head to college, some will go into the work force and some enlisted in the military. But what kept coming up in the speeches was how close these students are.

The graduating class size was 63 students, though only 58 attended the ceremony. The students walked into the gym two-by-two, girls in white gowns and boys in red gowns. They sat at one end of the gym as class President Macy Corcoran listed some of their achievements: two were enlisting in the Marines; two graduated with their associates degrees from Tompkins Cortland Community College; three were graduating in an accelerated program.

“The past 13 years consisted of twists and turns, ups and down,” Corcoran said. “But at the end of the day, it’s home.”

Valedictorian Hope Twitchell said the choices the students made over the years had varying meanings, shaping their character, watching their mistakes and wondering about the future.

“Choose, classmates, because our future is waiting for us,” Twitchell said.

“Although we’ve grown so much, I can’t help but feel a sense of togetherness,” said salutatorian Emily George, who plans to study biochemistry at Binghamton University. Her favorite memory with her classmates was when they took an end-of-year trip to Myers Park in Lansing.

“We are all really close,” George said, adding the sports teams brought them closer together.

“We all have our differences, but we have each other’s backs no matter what,” said Hart Sivrent, a football defensive end soon to become a Marine.

Principal Laura Norris compared the students’ experiences to when she decided to try mountain climbing in the Adirondacks at the age of 50.

“I stopped because when you’re at the top, only a few other people will be there,” Norris said.