SOUTH GLENS FALLS -- Physics teacher Girard Marcino, known to students as “The Hammer,” used his keynote speech at the South High commencement Saturday to hammer away at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education policy.

“In the future, you may lose your job, just as teachers do, but nobody — nobody — can take your education from you,” he told the 231 graduates of the South Glens Falls Class of 2012.

Marcino was selected to be the keynote speaker by a vote of the senior class.

At one point, he said his speech wasn’t about politics, but he repeatedly mentioned the governor’s education policy.

“It’s not about Gov. Cuomo’s cuts in education. But I can’t help think that this class might be the last class to have an excellent education,” he said.

Cuomo pushed through a 2 percent property tax cap law in 2011, which critics say has led to cuts in school district programs and staff.

Marcino said scheduling more study halls is not the solution to budget woes, but at least students would have more time to study for physics exams.

“Cutting education is analogous to cutting practice for the U.S. Olympics team,” he said.

He encouraged graduates to vote for political candidates who support education, regardless of political party.

Marcino also encouraged graduates to think positively and achieve great things.

“You will never reach a goal wishing for it. You have to work hard,” he said.

The South High Marathon Dance was a common theme in student and administration speeches at Saturday’s ceremony at Glens Falls Civic Center.

“If there is one answer that we have gotten from hours of cramming for Regents prep, it is that there is not an exact answer,” said Class President Joshua McClean.

But he touted an exact figure for how much the charity dance raised this year: $395,352.19.

“South High, itself, is an astounding community,” he said.

“It was amazing to see an entire school dancing, and an entire community coming together to generate almost $400,000,” said new Superintendent Michael Patton, in his first speech to a South High graduating class.

Graduates gave a standing ovation when Matthew Sorano, being pushed in a wheelchair, received his diploma.

Sorano, who has Parkinson’s disease, was a recipient of marathon dance funds.

Valedictorian Chase Brooks encouraged classmates to find solutions to problems and to think positively.

“Whatever it is that makes you happy — do it, live it, and never take it back,” he said.

Patton praised Assistant Superintendent Jean Tedesco, who is retiring after working 30 years in the district as a teacher, coach and administrator.

“There is no one who symbolizes ‘Bulldog Pride’ more than Mrs. T,” he said.

Graduating Choraliers joined underclassmen to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” by Paul Simon, while graduating band members joined underclassmen to perform “The Best of Journey,” arranged by Paul Murtha.

(5) comments


It shouldn't cost anymore next year than this year. For property taxes to go up every year is rediculous.


Wow, way to bully the public with teacher-centric rhetoric. If you think teacher evaluations will ruin education then you are severely misinformed. Teachers have been living high on the hog blaming everybody for their shortcomings. It's the parents, the kids are lazy, now Albany is out to get them. You know what, look to yourselves teachers. Maybe if you took your heads out of textbooks and actually taught instead of just teaching to the various tests that you have no backbone fighting against, then maybe you would be right about the quality of education. Maybe it's your fault that students are so ill prepared for the future and you are ticked off about finally being held even slightly accountable. I urge parents to out the low performing teachers when their evals become available.


Sounds like Mr Hammer wasted everyone's time to implant scare tactics into the minds of the weak and vulnerable. Maybe he should have focused on the actual event instaed of promoting his own political agenda.


Marcino did an amazing speech. All the student graduates could relate to what he was saying because it had been applied throughout the school year and it related to specific conversations that we had engaged in on our own. He did not blame anyone for anything, he simply stated his opinion and spoke about how we as graduates had to take action to stand for our own beliefs if we'd like better opportunities in the future. As for my own opinion, the comments on here should not be so harsh to focus on topics that are politically based or unrelated to the ceremony. The Hammer dedicates his life to teaching us kids how to master that Physics regents and it really pays off! He is both an amazing teacher and person and he deserves more respect than to be considered someone who wasted our time. As for the Graduation itself, it was great! Chase and Josh both gave great speeches as well and I can honestly say that I am so proud to be a member of the South High Class of 2012. Congrats guys! (:


The way I am reading this story is that this faculty member used a graduation speech to promote some political agenda? If I am wrong, I stand corrected. While I agree with him that no one can take ones education away from them, I do not believe that a keynote speech at a High School Graduation should be used to promote one's political views. I for one am for teacher evaluations as they separate the truly amazing educators from those just getting by. In my educational career, I have had some amazing educators who inspired me to think creatively and do better in subjects that I simply did not "get". On the other side of the coin, I have had a few instructors who were more "baby sitters" than instructors, just going through the motions and collecting a paycheck. Thank goodness I have had more of the "amazing educators" than the other ones LOL!

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