LAKE GEORGE -- "Let's rock this place!" said Principal Francis Cocozza, as he introduced the Class of 2010 vocal selection.
The performance by graduating seniors at the Lake George High School gymnasium on Saturday was about as fitting as they come. With guitar solos, bongo drums, recorders and several vocalists, the class performed "Send Me on My Way," originally by the rock group Rusted Root, in a graduation ceremony honoring the classes' educational roots.
There was applause at the beginning of the ceremony for the dedication and commitment of fallen Army soldier Benjamin Osborn, a 2002 graduate of Lake George High School who was killed June 15 in Afghanistan.
Members of the Honor Students Group spoke in pairs about different stages of their lives in the Lake George school district, from their elementary years to the junior and high school years, and looking forward to the future.
Madeline Rehm and Mary Strachen spoke of the elementary roots, from the kindergarten basics to playground power struggles. Chelsea Scott and Erika LaPlante had the audience laughing knowingly about cafeteria capers in middle school and high school, and Connor Perkett and Steven Petramale took both a personal and philosophical look into the future.
A total of 79 seniors earned their diplomas in the Class of 2010, an intimate class size that Principal Francis Cocozza feels fosters a good student and a good citizen.
"It is a tight-knit student body. They all know one another," he said.
The ceremony at Lake George has always used the Honor Students Group, selected in January of the graduation year, to be the voices of the class.
Taylor Dawson, one of the honors students, presented the school's Charity Selection with a moving personal story about why the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association were chosen to be recipients of the class gift, sharing her family connection to cancer and the student body's link to heart disease. Many students dropped an envelope in a basket as the climbed the stairs to the stage to receive their diploma.
Cocozza surprised the audience and the students with visits from future and past graduates of Lake George High School from a kindergartner (Class of 2022) to Classes of 2015, 2011, 2009, 1983, 1960, 1947 and 1944, who all shared memories and gave brief morsels of advice, rather than speaking himself as it was listed in the commencement program.
From Roger Wells, Class of 1983, introduced as "teacher extraordinaire" and given enthusiastic applause from the student body, his advice was to "Get out!" Then, after some time, graduates should come back to really appreciate the community where they all grew up. Wells is a science teacher at the high school.
From Connie Luke, Class of 1960, and just celebrating her 50th high school reunion: "Cultivate your listening skills."
And from a young kindergarten student: "You get what you get and you don't get upset," underscoring the popular notion that some of the most important lessons are learned in kindergarten.
For the students who have grown up in the resort community of Lake George, although it is a village and town known for its summer hospitality, it is the cold winter months in Lake George when the student body really gels as its own community, Cocozza suggested.
"They understand this is a small, unique place," he said.
"It is bittersweet," said Connor Perkett, an Honors Group speaker, about leaving the school district that has been such a large part of his life. He said he and his student friends will "remember the school by the Queen of the American Lakes."