‘Find Your Passion And Pursue It’

The first day of summer also proved to be the first day of post-high school life for the Jamestown Public Schools District’s Class of 2013.

On Friday, the districts’ 146th annual commencement ceremony was held at the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater, where 261 seniors received their diplomas.

The ceremony featured a variety of speakers who addressed the graduates with bits and pieces of advice, as well as performances by the JHS concert band and A’Cappella Choir. Superintendent Daniel Kathman, who will be retiring at the end of July, kicked off the ceremony by addressing graduates for the last time as district superintendent.

“Members of the class of 2013, my message is really pretty straight forward,” he said. “It comes from my own experience in how I stumbled through my senior year of high school, and in fact, the first couple years of my college experience. My message is: find your passion and pursue it. Follow your interests, chase your passions and chase them hard. You’ll get past all the obstacles and tripwires that life throws at you if you keep that force.”

Salutatorian Annie Dyatel followed Kathman with her own address that centered on breathing techniques she had learned as a competitive swimmer.

“If I may share a word of advice, take life one breath at a time,” she said. “Don’t ever confuse your life and your work. You will walk out of here this evening with only one thing no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree, and there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life.”

The Valedictorian address was given by Zachary Eklum, who discussed the meaning of success from a variety of perspectives.

“We typically get caught up in life by defining words according to others rather than according to ourselves,” he said. “The truth is, we all can be successful and we all are successful. But you are only as successful as you push yourself to become, and as you define yourself to become. And for all of us, we will run into many obstacles along the way-which will attempt to deviate us from success.

“My greatest advice to you is to do whatever it takes to overcome such obstacles that hinder your path to success, and to achieve personal greatness,” he added.

Mike McElrath, JHS principal, began his address by recognizing Kathman, and wishing him well on his impending retirement. McElrath then turned his attention to the graduates.

“It’s only fitting that today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, because this class certainly deserves to have the light on them as long as possible,” he said.

Other speakers included: Kelsey Abbott, who provided the invocation; Olivia Zabrodsky, who presented a tribute to parents; Rae Lynn Reimondo, presenting the100 Member Club awards; class co-president Ryan Salemme, who gave the presidents’ message; and class advisers Paige Anderson and Jean Brink.

The keynote speaker was Raymond Fashano, a class of 1966 JHS graduate and former district superintendent, who stressed the importance of achieving a post-secondary education and employing courage on the path to success.