SALAMANCA — Members of the Salamanca High School Class of 2019 were asked to stand up several times throughout Friday night’s commencement ceremony.
They were asked to stand and be applauded if they had ever participated in one of the school’s fine arts programs, if they were wearing Native American regalia with their caps and gowns, or if they plan to serve in the military.
One student, Hayden Hoag, was even asked to stand for having had perfect attendance since kindergarten.
For all the seniors’ unique achievements and skills, they were also reminded several times they were all — and will continue to be — Warriors.
“You entered Sally High many years ago as children. When you exit out this auditorium, you will be adults and you will be graduates,” Salamanca City Central School District Superintendent Robert Breidenstein told them, “but you will still be forever more a Warrior.”
School pride was a common theme throughout the graduation ceremony, in which approximately 80 graduates received diplomas, as educators and students often used their speeches to express admiration for the school and community.
Salutatorian Nora Warrior thanked teachers, parents, as well as local businesses and the Seneca Nation of Indians for supporting the class and providing them with opportunities. She added that the school’s diversity — 38% of students are American Indian, according to the New York State Education Department — forced students to become well-rounded individuals.
Even though graduates are leaving the school, Warrior said, they can’t turn their backs on what’s happening in the community.
“I’ve heard people complain about this town for all 17 years of my life,” she said, “But those complaints have not stopped the Class of 2019 and it should not stop the rest of you. We can and we will do better.”
Valedictorian Nyles Panus said that no matter where life takes the Class of 2019, it cannot forget where they come from.
“Salamanca will continue to shape who we are,” he said. “ … We’re proud to say we are Warriors.”
Class spokesperson Haley Pond got creative with her speech, as she used a plethora of fairytale analogies to tell the Class of 2019’s story from Prospect Elementary School to the graduation stage.
While they were sometimes villains causing trouble, class members were also heroes overcoming obstacles, Pond said.
“The most powerful characteristics we have is we’re not afraid to go against the status quo,” she said. “Think about it: What Disney princess followed the rules and did what was expected of them?”
She said the “magic” inside every graduate is the ability to decide their futures and the end of their stories.
“Reach out and find your happily ever after,” she concluded.
Students also got plenty of advice from district officials. Salamanca High School Principal Christopher Siebert told graduates to be both proud and humble, as well as generous with their time and efforts.
“Communities need people who plant trees so future generations can enjoy some shade,” he said.
Theresa Ray, president of the district’s Board of Education, gave students a creative way of making sure they’re always making good choices.
“No matter how old you are, ask yourselves this simple question: Would my mother want me to do this?” she said. “If the answer is no, don’t do it.”
Seneca Nation of Indians President Rickey Armstrong Sr., a member of the Salamanca High School Class of 1971, told graduates about how much has changed since he attended the school, like the elimination of a dress code and the addition of cell phones.
However, for all that’s changed, Armstrong said the commitment of the school’s teachers has “remained the same.”
“The students might be the ones walking across the stage tonight … but they certainly did not get here alone,” he said.
He also told graduates that while they worked hard to get to graduation, the ceremony is only one stop along their journey.
“You’re a Salamanca Warrior now and forever,” he said, “and we’re all excited to watch.”
Tamaycha J. Arce, Zariah J. Armstrong, Seth Ryan Bocharski, Cora T. Brooks, Aliza M. Brown, Ryan Chiemara, Tyler S. Coban, Andrew Colburn, Sunnie Ann Day, Kobee M. Decker, Heather M. Donaldson, Derrius A. Dowdy, Jeremiah D. Foster, Tristen J. Gillette, George H. Gillman, Katlynn N. Gould, Jersey N. Gray, Nicholas Logan Greene, Mitchell Thomas Gregory, Mary C. Haley, Molly S. Harrington, Tyler T. Hedlund, Zachary M. Helms, Brian J. Hill, Hayden Alexis Hoag, Hailey May Jacobson, Dylan Steven-Myron Jimerson, Rayona Jane Jimerson, Tristan Dale Jimerson, Asa Thomas John, Ira E. John, Cecil L. Johns II, Dyllan J. Kennedy, Brennen Kettle, Summer Kettle, Daniel Learn, Levi Lichy, Alexis Martin, Hunter John McAuley, William F. Meyer, Brandon Alexander Milanowski, Nikolas P. Milks, Benjamin C. Miller, Lacey C. Mohawk, Emily J. Nephew, Jordan Michael Nichols, Elana Norris, Nyles M. Panus, Luke J. Papke, Kaya M. Pierce, Haley Nicole Pond, Camaron Wesley Pratt, Caleb Matthew Reed, Connor Douglas Krause Reed, Owen M. Reed, Keelan R. Seneca, Mushirah Sheppard, Jerica Sherlock, Kieshia Marie Sherr, Brayden T. M. Skinner, Sesilleya Edith Slade, Rhayne Elizabeth Faye Smith, Quinton Skye Stahlman, Hannah Louise Stechenfinger, Quiana Stevens, Elizabeth Agnes Stewart, Lauren Lucretia Stoltz, Taylore Elizabeth Swain, Bryce A. Taylor, Brytni Chandelle Taylor, Naiomi Lin Ullman, Corey A. Vaughn, Nora Frances Warrior, James Edward Weaver Jr., Kiona M. Welch, Karomi Lyn Whitcomb, Josie June Williams and Julia Jordan Lorraine Wilson.
The Top 10 academic students were, Nyles Panus, Nora Warrior, Brandon Milanowski, Haley Pond, Jersey Gray, Elizabeth Stewart, Naiomi Ullman, Karomi Whitcomb, Sesilleya Slade and George Gillma.
SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS:
Tamaycha Arce – JCC USA Scholarship
Zariah Armstrong – Warrior Vision Award
Seth Bocharski – Edward White Jr. Memorial Award; SHS History Department Award; John F. Ahrens VFW “Patriot” Award
Aliza Brown – Spanish Honor Society Award
Andrew Colburn – Kiwanis Lonnie Crosby BOCES Award
Derrius Dowdy – Kyle Dowdy Sr. Seneca Language Award
George Gillman – Edward John Memorial Award – Plaque and Nameplate; Floyd Bean Stage Band Award – Trophy; National Honor Society Cattaraugus County Scholastic Excellence Award; Class of 1985 Scholarship; New York State Office of the Attorney General Triple “C” Award; JCC USA Scholarship
Jersey Gray – Euterpean Music Club Award; Floyd Bean Stage Band Award – Trophy; John Phillip Sousa Award – Plaque and Nameplate
Mary Haley — American Legion Hughes Skiba Post 535 Education Award
Tyler Hedlund – James S. Leary Memorial Scholarship; Phillip Evans Memorial Award; Louis Foy Male Athlete of the Year Award; University of Mount Union Dean’s Scholarship
Zachary Helms – Ray Wass Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Salamanca Gridiron Club
Hayden Hoag – Title VI Perfect Attendance Award (PreK – 12th grade)
Rayona Jimerson – Walter and Beatrice Beigel Scholarship
Cecil Johns, Jr. – Edward White Jr. Memorial Award; John F. Ahrens VFW “Patriot” Award
Ira John – CCB Award for Excellence in Leadership
Daniel Learn – Edward White Jr. Memorial Award; John F. Ahrens VFW “Patriot” Award
Hunter McAuley – Warrior Vision Award; Harry Nelson Baseball Award $30 and Plaque
Brandon Milanowski – Arion Music Award Plaque; Scholarship for Academic Excellence; Andrea Celeste Morton Memorial Award; Kiwanis William O. Valent Teaching Award; Sons of the American Legion Post 535 Award; Thomas Frank DeBolski and Eleanor L. DeBolski Scholarship; United States Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award; Brady & Swenson, P.C. Public Service Award; Ray Evans Scholarship for Commitment to the Arts; Mamie Rappoport Memorial Award; Warrior Vision Award; Timothy Ross Memorial Award; Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship; John F. Ahrens VFW Auxiliary Post 5296 Volunteer Award; Kyle Stephen Scott Memorial Award; The Roger Crandall Warrior Pride, Character and Courage Award; The Penny Brown Scholar/Athlete Award
Nikolas Milks – Michael C. Musolff Memorial Award
Jordan Nicols – Salamanca High School Special Instrumental Music Award Plaque
Nyles Panus – Valedictorian; Scholarship for Academic Excellence; CSEA Local 526 New York State Transportation Workers Award; Sommerfield Scholarship; Patrick Shinners Memorial Team Player Scholarship sponsored by the Southwestern Chapter of the NY State Association of Certified Football Officials; Brady & Swenson, P.C. Public Service Award; BEEP Scholarship Award; Kiwanis Ned Fenton Retail Award; National Honor Society Outstanding Chapter Member; Salamanca Academic Booster Club Senior Scholarship; New York State Office of the Attorney General Triple “C” Award; JCC USA Scholarship
Luke Papke – Karl and Nicole Pryor/Corning Foundation Scholarship; Boys State Representative
Haley Pond – Kiwanis Carl Zaprowski Journalism Award; Kiwanis Gilbert Krause Music Award; Holy Cross Athletic Club Memorial Award; The Clinton Restaurant Student/Athlete Scholarship; American Red Cross Educational Scholarship; Warrior Vision Award; Sons of the American Legion Post 535 Award; Student Council Leadership & Service Award; Brady & Swenson, P.C. Public Service Award; Kyle Stephen Scott Memorial Award; The Roger Crandall Warrior Pride, Character; New York State Office of the Comptroller Achievement Award; New York State Office of the Attorney General Triple “C” Award; Canisius College Peter Canisius Scholarship; The Canisius Endowed Scholarship
Mushirah Sheppard – Doris Evans Feinberg Memorial Award; Beatrice Sultanik Memorial Award; Colby Pitt Memorial Award; Gerald J. Ackley Scholarship; Anita Oyler Female Athlete of the Year Award
Sesilleya Slade – Frances Evans Memorial Award; National Honor Society Distinguished Service Award; Dennis Evans Memorial Award; Timothy Ross Memorial Award $125; Salamanca Teacher Association Scholarship; New York State Office of the Comptroller Achievement Award; Medaille College Trustee Scholarship
Rhayne Smith – The Class of 1963 Legacy Scholarship; Timothy Ross Memorial Award; Salamanca High School Special Vocal Music Award Plaque; JCC USA Scholarship
Elizabeth Stewart – Andrea Celeste Morton Memorial Award; Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship; Timothy Ross Memorial Award; Joseph V. Quattrone Music Award; The Meissner Memorial Award in Memory of Claribel, Barbara, Richard and Jay Meissner; JCC USA Scholarship
Lauren Stoltz – Holy Cross Athletic Club Memorial Award; Hobart Rhinehart Memorial Student Volunteer Award given by CCSE; American Legion Hughes Skiba Post 535 Education Award; Salamanca Administrators Supervisory Association – Where Learners Become Leaders: The Future of Salamanca Award; The Rosalie Nosal Memorial Award; The Meissner Memorial Award in Memory of Claribel, Barbara, Richard & Jay Meissner; John F. Ahrens VFW Auxiliary Post 5296 Volunteer Award
Taylore Swain – Lehman “Dar” Dowdy Seneca Language Award; Walter and Beatrice Beigel Scholarship
Bryce Taylor – JCC Jason Wogick Memorial Scholarship; William D. Furlong Award; JCC USA Scholarship
Naiomi Ullman – The Joelle Murdock Business Award; JCC USA Scholarship
Nora Warrior – Salutatorian; Scholarship for Academic Excellence; Girls State Representative; BEEP Scholarship Award; The Mitch Gray Salutatorian Scholarship; Kiwanis Judge Thomas Kelly English Award; Thomas C. George Memorial Award; Title VI Top 10 & Salutatorian Award; Brady & Swenson, P.C. Public Service Award; The Salamanca Bowling Association Scholarship; Harry B. Rappoport Memorial Award; The Instrumentalist Magazine Merit Award; The Penny Brown Scholar/
Athlete Award; United States Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award; New York State Office of the Attorney General Triple “C” Award
James Weaver – Edward White Jr. Memorial Award; John F. Ahrens VFW “Patriot” Award
Karomi Whitcomb – Kiwanis John Clarke Business Award; Salamanca Chapter National Honor Society Leadership Service Award; Title VI Top 10 Award; Karl & Nicole Pryor/Corning Foundation Scholarship; James Keenen Memorial Award; New York State Office of the Attorney General Triple “C” Award.