LAKE LUZERNE -- An arc of tables in front of the school gym entrance held chocolate chip cookies, customized for each graduating senior, at the Hadley-Luzerne High School commencement Friday night.
This homey touch is fitting for this close-knit community and school, whose students are a "classy group of kids," said Principal Beecher Baker."These kids are wonderful together, they are never mean-spirited. ... They are a bright group."
Fifty-five seniors of the Class of 2010 turned their tassels on a warm evening not far from the shore of Lake Luzerne as a full moon cast a glimmer of light on the water. This setting, said alumnus and graduation speaker Curt Schreiner, is "why you can be fortunate to call this home ... the natural beauty. ..."
Schreiner, a three-time winter Olympian in the biathlon, was a 1993 graduate of Hadley-Luzerne Central School, and remains nearby in the town of Day, where he is the founder with his parents of the Saratoga Biathlon Club.
"Some of you may feel this is the end of your education, but it is really just the beginning," Schreiner said.
One of the most important things students must do involves "goal-setting, making plans and then taking action."
His goal was to further his education and go to the Winter Olympics.
In a rousing speech, Superintendent Irwin Sussman spoke of his own coming 45th high school reunion, and how important reunions will be to all the seniors in years to come.
For Kayla Streeter, the mark her school has made on her life is profound. Several groups at school joined to hold the "Hearts for Haiti" campaign at the school to raise money for Haiti relief efforts.
Streeter had been in Haiti the summer before the earthquake in January on a mission with her youth group, and was compelled to bring some support back there. She feels her school fosters that kind of caring and support.
"Everyone paid a dollar for a heart and we covered the hallway walls with heart. ... We raised a lot of money," said Streeter, who will be going to Ithaca in the fall.
Salutatorian Brittany Shyanne Bala spoke of hope in her welcome address.
Valedictorian Joseph Daniel Legault spoke of how important friendship is while in high school, and concluded his speech with a light heart - his goal was to be funny. "I don't want anyone to be bored," said the thoughtful student, who is heading to Hamilton College in the fall.
As each student was given a diploma by Board of Education President Lisa Moses, she exchanged words, a hug and a smile with each one.