SALAMANCA — Before the 62 graduates in the Salamanca High School Class of 2018 received their diplomas Friday night, Class Speaker Anna Collingwood reminded her peers of all the changes that have happened in their lives leading to that moment.
“By now most of us know that change is a part of life,” she said. “Many will refuse the inevitable while others chose to embrace it. The Class of 2018 is split somewhere in the middle.”
Collingwood brought up memories containing both good and bad, fun and embarrassing, simple and stressful moments from their school years that helped shape the graduates to be on that stage, likely all together for the last time.
“Some of us may not see each other again until our reunion, where we may not even recognize each other because of how much we have changed,” she said. “Therefore, we need to really cherish these moments we have together because it is priceless.”
Additionally, the relationships her classmates developed over the years are something Collingwood said also brought about changes in each of them. She said it’s something they should cherish as their greatest change yet is about to occur.
“It’s up to us to apply everything we have taught each other and learned in the past 13 years,” she said, “in order to make good decisions that will lead us to the life we want to live.”
In her speech, Salutatorian Ashley Siperek took the opportunity to recognize and thank the many people who helped the graduates succeed, beginning with their teachers over the years and their senior class advisor.
“(We) appreciate the time and effort that you have put into us throughout our time here at Salamanca,” she said. “From kindergarten to our senior year, all of the teachers who taught us have made an impact in some way.”
Siperek also thanked the community as a whole for their support of the class in co-curricular and extracurricular activities, as well as the administration for its support. For the first time this year, graduates were allowed to decorate their caps, something only possible due to the community’s and administration’s support.
Finally, Siperek thanked the parents and guardians who prepared them for the future. She said they were there for her classmates before, after and even during school hours, doing many little things that added up over the years.
“This is a big turning point in our lives that is going to be challenging and new to us, but with our parents’ continued support, we will all be just fine,” she said. “We don’t say thank you enough for everything that you have already done and will hopefully continue to do.”
Valedictorian Savannah Wujastyk took her classmates back nearly a decade to their days at Seneca Intermediate School — called Seneca Elementary then — discussing the end-of-the-year field days. She said those tug-of-wars, three-legged races and relays represented the struggles for success they would all face and have to overcome.
“High school is a difficult time for many, and we’ve all felt the tug-of-war with life in the struggles of having no motivation to complete work that seems pointless, getting to school on time and trying to hold down a job or play sports all with the efforts of trying to pass school,” she said.
Those struggles are common in high school students, Wujastyk said, but every graduate goes through their own struggles to get to graduation. She compared the three-legged races and relay races to all the times classmates would have to work together to achieve a common goal.
“I’ve learned — and hopefully the Class of 2018 has learned — that it’s important to have someone by your side when going throughout life to help pick you up when the struggles get tough and to cheer you on for success,” Wujastyk said.
Jesse Armstrong Jr., Rochelle Elizabeth Bish, Cole Robert Brooks, Adjaza Janine Brown, Mikayla M. Burlin, Kayla Butcher, Breann Cheney, Anna Marie Collingwood, Shavonne Colón, Kamryn John Cook, Lauren J. Crouse-Ruiz, Samantha R. Ditcher, Philip DeBoy, Zachary Doner, Dessa Aiyana Dowdy, Emily Ann Ellinger, Dakota William James Ercolani, Dennis Michael Feldbauer Jr., Brandon W. Gardner, Jaycelyn C. George, Brittney Renee González, Ian N. Graves, Jade R. Green, Emily Jean Griffin, Tyler Ground-Zwierzchowski, Robert Carson Hoag, Maria Lanea Howard, Jada Jelene Jimerson, Abraham B. John, Leland O. John, Nicholas S. Johnson, Kimberlie Michelle Kennedy, Emily Christine Koniak, Timothy James Paul Lamberson, Courtney J. Levine, Autumn E. Maybee, Sophie Lisalynne McKenzie, Caryn C. Miller, Johnathan Murphy, Caroline Rose Oyer, Michelle Marie Pierce, Hercules Rasha, Austin Reyes, McKenzie Lynn Rider, Bailey Richard Rottenberger, Olivia Kyannarose Sanford, Sarah Sawicki, Marijayne Alexis Schwartz, Briana Nichole Sherwood, Jeremiah Shoup, Braden C. Siebert, Sara Jo Simpson, Ashley Estelle Siperek, Payton Alexxis Skinner, Oliver Spruce, Allysen Paige Steckman, Audrianna Christina-Mae Taylor, Yeamy Velez Marrero, C. Talon Branson Welch, Jordyn Wheeler, Brooke A. Wilson, Savannah Marie Wujastyk.
Scholarships & Awards
Rochelle Bish – Judith A. Toner Attendance Award
Anna Collingwood – VFW Young American Patriotic Art Scholarship; Andrea Celeste Morton Memorial Award; American Legion Hughes Skiba Post 535 Education Award; Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship; VFW Auxiliary Post 5296 Volunteer Award
Dessa Dowdy – Gerald J. Ackley Scholarship
Dennis Feldbauer – John F. Ahrens VFW Patriots Award; Edward White Memorial Award
Emily Griffin – Kiwanis Gilbert Krause Music Award; Warrior Vision Participation Award; Class of 1985 Scholarship; Salamanca High School Special Vocal Music Award
Carson Hoag – Kiwanis Lonnie Crosby BOCES Award
Maria Howard – Colby Pitt Memorial Award; Edward White Jr. Memorial Award
Abraham John – Sons of the American Legion Post 535 Award
Nickolas Johnson – Boy of the Year; Warrior Vision Participation Award; William D. Furlong Award; Ray Wass Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Salamanca Gridiron Club; Kyle Stephen Scott Memorial Scholarship; Penny Brown Scholar/Athlete Memorial Award; Boys State Representative; The Clinton Restaurant Student/Athlete Scholarship; Roger Crandall Warrior Pride, Character and Courage Award; Jamestown Community College USA Scholarship
Emily Koniak – Rosalie Nosal Memorial Award; Salamanca Class of 1963 Legacy Scholarship; Jamestown Community College USA Scholarship; Jamestown Community College Jason Wogick Memorial Scholarship
Autumn Maybee – Sons of the American Legion Post 535 Award
Sophie McKenzie – Salamanca High School History Department Award; Seneca Nation of Indians Title VI Award; Lehman “Dar” Dowdy Award; Syracuse University Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship
Caryn Miller – Niagara Frontier Industry Education Counsel B.E.E.P. Scholarship; CSEA Local 526 NYS Transportation Workers Award; Thomas C. George Memorial Award; Thomas Frank Debolski and Eleanor L. Debolski Scholarship; Anita Oyler Female Athlete of the Year; Seneca Nation of Indians Valedictorian; Seneca Nation Title VI Award; Kyle Dowdy Jr. Award; Syracuse University Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship
Caroline Oyer – James S. Leary Memorial Scholarship
Michelle Pierce – Salamanca Chapter National Honor Society Leadership/ Service Award; Cattaraugus County National Honor Society Outstanding Chapter Member; Beatrice Rapapport Sultanik Memorial Award; Kiwanis Carl Zaprowski Journalism Award; Cattaraugus County Bank Award for Excellence in Leadership; Student Council Leadership & Service Award; Walter and Beatrice Beigel Scholarship; Thomas C. George Memorial Scholarship; Seneca Nation of Indians Title VI Award; Jamestown Community College USA Scholarship
Hercules Rasha – Seneca Nation of Indians Salutatorian
Austin Reyes – Boys State Representative; Harry Nelson Baseball Award; Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship; Betty Dougherty Memorial Bowling Scholarship
McKenzie Rider – New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence Award; Joseph V. Quattrone Music Award; Meissner Memorial Award in Memory of Claribel, Barbara, Richard & Jay Meissner; Hobart Rhinehart Memorial Student Volunteer Award given by CCSE; Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation Pat McGee Nursing Scholarship; Salamanca Teacher’s Association Scholarship; Kiwanis John Clarke Business Award; American Legion Hughes Skiba Post 535 Education Award
Bailey Rottenberger – Michael C. Musolff Memorial Award
Sarah Sawicki – Sommerfield Scholarship; Meissner Memorial Award in Memory of Claribel, Barbara, Richard & Jay Meissner; Karl and Nicole Pryor/Corning Foundation Scholarship
Marijayne Schwartz – Niagara Frontier Industry Education Counsel B.E.E.P. Scholarship; Seneca Salamanca Chamber of Commerce Business Award; Where Learners Become Leaders: The Future of Salamanca Scholarship given by Salamanca Administrators Supervisory Association; Holy Cross Athletic Club Memorial Award; Penny Brown Scholar/Athlete Memorial Award
Briana Sherwood – Warrior Vision Participation Award; Walter and Beatrice Beigel Scholarship
Braden Siebert – Phillip Evans Award; James Keenen Memorial Award; Andrea Celeste Morton Memorial Award; Louis Foy Male Athlete of the Year
Ashley Siperek – Salutatorian; Girl of the Year; New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence Award; Mitch Gray Salutatorian Scholarship; Cattaraugus County National Honor Society Distinguished Service Award; New York State Comptroller Achievement Award; State of New York Attorney General Triple “C” Award; Kiwanis William O. Valent Teaching Award; Roger Crandall Warrior Pride, Character and Courage Award; VFW Auxiliary Post 5296 Volunteer Award; Seneca Nation of Indians Title VI Award
Allysen Steckman – Dennis Evans Memorial Scholarship; Jamestown Community College USA Scholarship
Yeamy Velez – Doris Evans Feinberg Memorial Award; Karl and Nicole Pryor/Corning Foundation Scholarship
Savannah Wujastyk – Valedictorian; Girls State Representative; New York State Comptroller Achievement Award; Cattaraugus County National Honor Society Scholastic Excellence Award; State of New York Attorney General Triple “C” Award; New York State Scholarship for Academic Excellence Award; Mamie Rapapport Memorial Award; Harry B. Rapapport Memorial Award; Frances Evans Award; Kiwanis Judge Thomas Kelly English Award; American Red Cross Scholarship; Where Learners Become Leaders: The Future of Salamanca Scholarship given by the Administration of Salamanca (SASA); Kiwanis Ned Fenton Retail Award; Salamanca Academic Booster Club Senior Scholarship; Holy Cross Athletic Club Memorial Award; Frontier Industry Education Counsel B.E.E.P. Scholarship; Burger King Scholar; Phanstiel Grant from Syracuse University; Syracuse University Engineering and Computer Science Leader Scholarship; JCC College Connections Student of the Year