SARATOGA SPRINGS -- When Schuylerville celebrated its first high school graduation, Dwight Colvin Jr. was fresh out of the Army after serving in World War II.
Colvin, who also served in Korea, never took part in a graduation ceremony in those days, but he did Saturday as Schuylerville Junior-Senior High School celebrated its 64th graduating class.
Just before the 128 members of the Class of 2010 received their diplomas, Colvin received his from his granddaughter, Andrea Helwig, who was among the graduates. The award was part of Operation Recognition, in which the state encourages schools to give diplomas to veterans who never received theirs. A second veteran, Carl G. Beninati, who died two weeks ago at age 90, was also honored. His grandson, Mark Kelley, was also among the graduates, whose families filled the Saratoga Springs City Center for the morning graduation.
"The school sent a letter home and said it was an option," Helwig said. "So we decided to do it."
Helwig is one of more than 20 grandchildren. Her grandparents had eight children of their own.
Colvin's diploma was just a small part of the school's graduation, which was held in the Saratoga Springs City Center and included nearly 125 awards and scholarships handed out to the graduates.
Principal Matthew Sickles pointed out that 31 members of the class graduated with an average of 90 or higher.
Even though there were many awards, there was one fewer speech than usual.
"Our valedictorian and salutatorian decided they wanted to give a single speech," Sickles said. "They wanted to do it together."
The unusual twist worked perfectly, with Valedictorian Madeline Reynolds alternating with Salutatorian Alexandra Griffin. At time, they two seemed to speak with a single voice, appearing extremely well-rehearsed as they spoke of their parents, their teachers, their classmates and their community.
"A lot of us have been saying we want to get out of here as fast as we can," said Griffin, who will attend Cornell University. "The truth is that we are all shaking in our shoes."
Reynolds, who will attend Elon University in North Carolina, spoke of learning in a small school and town.
"The fact that ours is a small community allows us to be on a first-name basis with everyone," she said.
In his speech, Board of Education President Michael Booth Sr. took a few minutes to thank the district's 12 retiring teachers.
Sickles also addressed the class, and his pride in his students was apparent, starting with his encouraging words to them before the ceremony and his smile as they made their way to the stage. Sickles presented the diplomas, along with Superintendent Ryan Sherman and assistant principals.
During the ceremony, the Senior Chamber Singers, under the direction of teacher Jody Leight, performed "You Are the New Day."
Jamie Zwirn, who was ranked third in the class, will attend Villanova University and major in psychology. Nikolas Boivin, the highest ranking boy in the class, will go to Siena College and major in biology, and No. 5 senior Joshua Beauregard will major in digital arts and sciences at Clark University, in Worcester, Mass.