SALAMANCA — Despite the restrictions and unexpected challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, 59 Salamanca students received their high school diplomas Friday in an outdoor ceremony.

Donning caps and gowns, as well as face masks, the students celebrated their achievements in the amphitheater at the Seneca Nation’s Onöhsagwë:de' Cultural Center with school officials and immediate family in attendance.

So as not to overcrowd the amphitheater, commencement was split into two ceremonies with half the students receiving their diplomas in each one about two hours apart.

Class speaker Aly Hill took her class on a mental trip down memory lane, reminding them of times in their elementary school days such as green eggs and ham during Dr. Seuss Week and the Washington, D.C. trip in eighth grade on their way to high school.

“Throughout high school, we have learned so many life lessons that will carry on with us wherever we go from here,” she said. “Now, it is time for us to take our separate paths and start a new journey in life.”

Valedictorian Emma Fiske echoed Hill’s comments on life lessons and going separate ways in her speech, but took her classmates back to a more recent day in their school careers: the last day of school they held in the building.

“None of us had any idea that March 13, a Friday the 13th ironically, would be our last day of high school,” she said. “Many of us realized that we wouldn’t see many members of our class again, and we didn’t get a chance to thank the teachers and coaches who had helped us through our years at Sally High.”

Despite the last three months of school being a challenge to them, Fiske said she was proud of the way the class handled the heartbreak and worked harder than ever to finish their senior year on a high note.

Salutatorian Jordan Ray thanked the Salamanca community and school district for coming together to support the students during the pandemic, noting the adopt-a-senior program and how excited many of her classmates were to be adopted by area families, businesses and organizations.

“Although some people might not recognize it, the love and support has always been there,” she said. “Whether it’s for sports, academics, drama or robotics, this community has an outstanding support system for the entire school, but especially the class of 2020.”

Graduates

Kohl M. Ambuske, Aisha A. Armstrong, Madalynn Grace Armstrong, Alex J. Bennett, Justin Michael Blakesslee, William Boon, Leo D. Capron, Rachel R. Chamberlain, Dennis Dale Cogley, Jr., John Paul Edward Collingwood, Jr., Elijah Christian Cook, Carter Crane, KayLee Paige Craumer, Travis DeMond, Alyssa P. Dille, David W Dixon, Jr., Jonna Dowdy, Kylee J. Dowdy, Tristian Elliot, Hunter Ercolani, Emma Grace Fiske, Aaron C. George, Kaihalla K. George, Aly Suzanne Hill, Hudson Hoag, Kyle Hunt, Anna F. Isaac, Gracie John, Emily Mae Johns, Breena Sakaye Kawamura, Kaylyn Y. Kawamura, Nizhoni Rhea Kennedy, Baylee Elizabeth Klusek, Collin Koch, Coby Ledsome, Jacob Letson, Liam Long, Lauren Elizabeth Lowe, Carmen Rae Mason, Holly Ann McGonigle, Jarrett S. McKenna, Bradley Oakes-Marsh, Alexis Palmeri, Grace Papke, Marshall W. Patterson, Jordan Virginia Ray, Jacob C. F. Rozler, Jasmine Smith, Ira M. Snyder, Jazlynn Snyder, Kawliga Storm Stahlman, Hunter Stoltz, Trent Strauch, Olan Charles Talbot, Dylan J. Wheeler, Tabitha White, Alexis A. Wiles, Abraham B. Wilson and Jacob A. Yaworsky.

Awards and Scholarships

Kohl Ambuske — Kiwanis Gilbert Krause Music Award, Kiwanis John Clarke Business Award, Harry B. Rappoport Memorial Award, Student Council Leadership & Service Award, Sons of the American Legion Post 535 Award, Joseph V. Quattrone Music Award, Timothy Ross Memorial Soccer Award, NHS Cattaraugus County Essay Scholarship, State of New York Office of the State Attorney General Triple “C” Award

Madalyn Armstrong — Scholarship in Memory of Phillip and Frances Evans, Ray Evans and Doris Evans Feinberg, the Salamanca Warrior Shining Star Award

Alex Bennett — The Salamanca Warrior Shining Star Award

Justin Blakeslee — Warrior Vision Award, Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship, Kiwanis Carl Zaprowski Journalism Award, Timothy Ross Memorial Soccer Award, Roger Crandall Warrior Pride, Character and Courage Award

Leo Capron — John F. Ahrens VFW “Patriot Award”

Rachel Chamberlain — American Legion Hughes Skiba Post 535 Education Award, Timothy Ross Memorial Soccer Award

Dennis Cogley Jr. — I. Beatrice Sultanik Memorial Award, NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Class of 1985 Scholarship, NHS Cattaraugus County Outstanding Chapter Member, The American Legion Post 1587 Scholarship, the State of New York Office of the State Attorney General Triple “C” Award, The Prestigious Valparaiso University Presidential Scholarship

John Collingwood — Dennis Evans Memorial Award, Scholarship in Memory of Phillip and Frances Evans, Ray Evans and Doris Evans Feinberg, Sons of the American Legion Post 535 Award

Travis Demond — Jamestown Business College Academic Progress Award

David Dixon — The Joelle Murdoch Business Award

Kylee Dowdy — Kyle Dowdy Jr. Award

Emma Fiske — NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Business Education Employability Portfolio Scholarship, Sommerfield Scholarship, Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship, Andrea Celeste Morton Memorial Award, Roger Crandall Warrior Pride, Character and Courage Award, Kyle Stephen Scott Memorial Scholarship, Scholarship in Memory of Phillip and Frances Evans, Ray Evans and Doris Evans Feinberg, Where Learners Become Leaders: The Future of Salamanca Scholarship, Cattaraugus County Daughters of the American Revolution Scholarship, The Kothari Family Fund Healthcare Scholarship, Brady and Swenson P.C. Public Service Award, NHS Cattaraugus County Scholastic Excellence Awar, The Hobart Rhinehart Memorial Student Volunteer Award, Timothy Ross Memorial Soccer Award, Salamanca Academic Booster Club Senior Scholarship, Nazareth College Tuition Exchange Scholarship

Aaron George — Kiwanis Lonnie Crosby BOCES Award, BOCES BESPA Scholarship

Kaihalla George — Karl and Nicole Pryor/Corning Foundation Scholarship, Lehman “Dar” Dowdy Award, Medaille-Salamanca Scholarship

Aly Hill — Warrior Vision Award, Andrea Celeste Morton Memorial Award, Kyle Stephen Scott Memorial Scholarship, Judith A. Toner Attendance Award, Colby Pitt Memorial Award, Where Learners Become Leaders: The Future of Salamanca Scholarship, Salamanca Teachers’ Association Scholarship, Thomas DeBolski and Eleanor L. DeBolski Scholarship, Brady and Swenson P.C. Public Service Award, Timothy Ross Memorial Soccer Award, Anita Oyler Female Athlete of the Year

Anna Isaac — CSEA Local 526 NY State Transportation Workers Award

Emily Johns — Kiwanis William O. Valent Teaching Award, Jamestown Business College Access Award

Nizhoni Kennedy — NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Kiwanis Judge Thomas Kelly English Award, Mamie Rappoport Memorial Award, Rosie Nosal Memorial Award, Thomas C. George Memorial Award, NHS Cattaraugus County Distinguished Service Award, American Legion Post 1587 Scholarship Award, State of New York Office of the State Attorney General Triple “C” Award

Coby Ledsome — Jamestown Business College Access Award

Liam Long — Kiwanis Ned Fenton Retail Award, CCB Award for Excellence, Where Learners Become Leaders: The Future of Salamanca Scholarship, Timothy Ross Memorial Soccer Award, State of New York Office of the State Attorney General Triple “C” Award

Carmen Mason — Salamanca Class of 1963 Legacy Scholarship

Holly McGonigle — American Red Cross Educational Scholarship, The Clinton Restaurant Student/Athlete Scholarship, SHS History Department Award, Walter/ Beatrice Beigel Scholarship

Jarrett McKenna — James S. Leary Memorial Scholarship, Harry Nelson Baseball Award, Ray Wass Memorial Scholarship, Gerald J. Ackley Scholarship, Scholarship in Memory of Phillip and Frances Evans, Ray Evans and Doris Evans Feinberg, CSEA Local 526 NY State Transportation Workers Award, Louis Foy Male Athlete of the Year Award

Alexis Palmeri — William D. Furlong Award, Jamestown Business College Academic Progress Award

Grace Papke — SHS Special Vocal Music Award

Jordan Ray — Mitch Gray Salutatorian Award, NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Business Education Employability Portfolio Scholarship, Thomas C. George Memorial Award, Meissner Memorial Award in Memory of Claribel, Barbara, Richard and Jay Meissner, Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship, American Legion Hughes Skiba Post 535 Education Award, Scholarship in Memory of Phillip and Frances Evans, Ray Evans and Doris Evans Feinberg, Salamanca Warrior Shining Star Award, D’Youville President’s Scholarship, D’Youville Honors Program Scholarship, D’Youville Leadership Program Scholarship

Mitchell Richardson — CSEA Local 526 NY State Transportation Workers Award

Jacob Rozler — Karl and Nicole Pryor/Corning Foundation Scholarship, Spanish Honor Society Award

Ira Snyder — Medaille-Salamanca Scholarship

Dylan Wheeler — Warrior Vision Award

Alexis Wiles — Walter/Beatrice Beigel Scholarship

Abe Wilson — Jamestown Business College Entrepreneurship Award