Seniors leave with fond memories in Westmoreland

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WESTMORELAND — Graduating seniors said farewell to Westmoreland High School and all the challenges that came with it at the school’s 119th annual commencement.

While graduates — 71 in all — prepared for the next chapter of their lives, they reflected on everything that led up to it — and what they’ll take with them into the world.

First to speak was Carrah Sadler, a tutor and mentor at upper elementary who plans to attend Utica University and become a librarian. Sadler was a Westmoreland Central School District student until 8th grade and returned to finish high school. “I may not have went through all of high school with you; I was here to see the change in everyone,” she said. “And I’ve seen growth. Being away for three years has caused me to see you all so differently. There’s been a change in character and confidence, and maturity. Our class has gone through a lot, of course, because of COVID-19, but there’s also that long hike up Bald Mountain that actually injured some of us. But we made it to the top of the mountain that day, no matter what we faced. And we made it to June 17, no matter what we faced.”

“I see future doctors, teachers, mechanics, welders, and so much more,” Sadler said. “Time will only tell what we accomplish, but I have faith in each and every one of you.”

Graduate speaker Hayley Breen stepped up to the mic, more than used to speaking to the school when delivering the school news. However, her true love is dance and dance instruction, and she plans to become a certified dance instructor and attend the University of Buffalo to study dance. After that, she hopes to join the Theater Arts Preparatory School in Las Vegas.

“Good evening, Bulldogs,” Breen said in her newscaster cadence. “Welcome back to URWG — Your Westmoreland Graduation. I’m Hayley, and I’m here to talk about what graduation means to me but the senior class of Westmoreland High School.”

Breen said she might not know everyone in the 2022 class personally, but she didn’t consider them strangers. “This school, and this class of 2022, is a family,” she said. “These buildings were a home for us for a decade.”

The last student speaker was Class President Laura Stephens. Stephens has been a member of the Westmoreland Marching Band, Color Guard, Drama Club, Select Chorus, Broadway Voices, Tri-M Honor Society, and National Honor Society. Across these clubs, she’s been chosen for leadership positions and plans to attend Mohawk Valley Community College and study to become a nurse. She hopes to transfer to a four-year college to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

“Perhaps we never realized, but I do now, that every accomplishment and obstacle were stepping stones to this moment,” she continued. “Class of 2022, we shared some very memorable moments through the years. Visiting multiple landfills as part of educational field trips, dancing in water fountains in New York City, and accidentally unmuting during [online meetings] and saying something we didn’t necessarily want the class to hear.”

“Regardless of which memories stick out most, they’re ones we share,” Stephens said. “And they’ll be what we remember from this long journey.”

See a Daily Sentinel photo gallery here: https://romesentinel.com/stories/westmoreland-high-school-graduation-june-17-2022,136465

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