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Mission Statement:
Empower each individual to make responsible choices, meet challenges, achieve personal success, and contribute to a global society.

June 10, 2015

Commencement 2015 in photos: Tradition, appreciation, celebration

Niskayuna High School's commencement ceremony is steeped in tradition, from lining up outside of Proctors to the student musical selections to the passing of the school flag. The Class of 2015's graduation on Thursday, June 26, was no exception. The photos and descriptions below capture more than 40 moments from this special night.

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Students wait in the area behind Proctors to line up for the 7 p.m. procession into the theater.  

 

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A pre-ceremony photo-op! 

 

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Graduates line up and wait for the ceremony to begin.

 

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Graduates line up and wait for the ceremony to begin.

 

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It's almost time!

 

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The Niskayuna High School Symphonic Band performs the pre-ceremony concert.  

 

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Assembled guests wait for the graduates to enter the theater. 

 

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The Class of 2015 is in the building! 

 

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Class President, and ceremony emcee, Rachel Padula greets the guests and her classmates. "Life is not measured by how many times you fall, but by how many times you get back up," she said.

 

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The first of three musical presentations from graduates, a solo piano performance of Chopin's "Quatrieme Ballade in F Minor," by Aaron Chan.

 

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Mr. Rickert addresses the Class of 2014. " This is World Class student body, taught by a World Class Faculty," Mr. Rickert said. Mr. Rickert surprised former Interim Superintendent John Yagielski with a Medal of Niskayuna Excellence for his contributions to the district over the last 14 months.

 

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Niskayuna enjoys its fine reputation for three primary reasons, Mr. Yagielski said: Outstanding students, supportive parents, and a dedicated faculty. "I want to recognize all of the hard work and effort it took our students to achieve this level of academic success," he said. 

 

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At Mr. Yagielski's request, the parents of the graduates stood up and were applauded by their children. 

 

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Mr. Yagielski also asked faculty members to stand for a round of applause. 

 

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The second musical presentation from the graduating class, Samantha Burgess performs "Ashokan Farewell" by Jay Ungar.

 

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Class Historian Jelani Rice and Secretary Meghan Stevenson present the class gift, a restored Niskayuna crest that is now on permanent display in the Crossroads area at the high school. (The new, lighter-weight crest for events is pictured on stage.) 

 

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Meghan Stevenson brings Student Activities Coordinator Vince Bianchi to the stage for special recognition for all he has done for the class and the school, including coordinating the graduation ceremony. She announces a donation to the Tina Bianchi Memorial Scholarship. "He's been the man behind the curtain for so many of our memorable high school moments," Stevenson said. "Nothing can thank him for his years of service, but we hope this, in a small way, shows our gratitude."

 

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The third musical presentation of the evening from the graduates, an ensemble of 20 seniors performed an a Cappella version of "I've Had the Time of My Life." Pictured: Teddy Arcidiacono & Jonathan Mannato.

 

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The performance of "I've Had the Time of My Life." 

 

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Lauren Litz & James Stacy perform, "I've Had the Time of My Life." 

 

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Will Whisenhunt and Victoria Pressman perform "I've Had the Time of My Life." 

 

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The ceremonial passing of the Niskayuna High School flag to the Class of 2016.  

 

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After the accepting the school flag on behalf of her class, Taylor Green, vice president of the Class of 2016, congratulates the graduates.  

 

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Class of 2015 Vice President Lauren Litz and Treasurer Joseph Gunderson thank school leaders and their advisors. They announced charitable donations selected to personally recognize school administrators, and thanked advisors Mary Jane MacPherson and Mrs. Joanna Reader for their leadership and support. "We can't thank them enough for reminding us how much we were capable of if we ever forgot," Litz said.

 

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Zeynep Balto became the first graduate to come through the district's First Year International Scholars Program. She thanked program coordinator Edward Alston, school leaders, her host family, and her parents, who traveled from Turkey to see her graduate.  

 

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Board of Education President Patricia Lanotte welcomed Niskayuna High School Hall of Fame inductee Gilbert King, a 1980 graduate and Pulitzer Prize winning author to the podium.

 

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King congratulated students and, beyond chasing their dreams, encouraged them to get busy leading meaningful lives. He talked about his path from dreaming of being a professional baseball player to becoming a writer. "Instead of dreaming of being a writer the way I dreamed of being a baseball player years ago, I simply got to work. The work was the difference and wouldn't you know it, in telling stories, I finally discovered my Plan A. It's nothing I ever dreamed about, but there's nothing I'd rather be doing."

 

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The Class of 2015 prepares to receive their diplomas.  

 

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Graduates greeted by faculty members after receiving diplomas.  

 

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Graduates walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.  

 

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School psychologist Dr. Ann Joyce, who is retiring this year, hands out carnations to graduates.  

 

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Graduates receive their diplomas. 

 

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Board of Education Vice President Debra Gordon prepares to present her daughter, Stacy Gordon, with her diploma. 

 

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John Rickert presents diplomas to students. 

 

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Graduates receive their diplomas.  

 

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Board of Education President Patricia Lanotte presents her son, Anthony, with his diploma. 

 

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Assistant Principal Marna Meltzer McMorris presented her stepson, Colin McMorris, with his diploma. 

 

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The view of the ceremony from the upper seating tier at Proctors. 

 

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Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. congratulates graduates. 

 

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Members of the Class of 2015 are ready to turn their tassels.

 

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Turning their tassels... 

 

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Presenting the Niskayuna High School Class of 2015. We are incredibly proud of you and wish you all the best.