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Stissing Mountain holds graduation

PINE PLAINS — Stissing Mountain High School’s class of 2011 celebrated graduation on Saturday, June 25.Eighty-seven Pine Plains students received their high school diplomas. At the beginning of the ceremony, a special diploma was also awarded to a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.Daniel Fett was supposed to graduate high school in 1969. He was able to receive a high school diploma on Saturday through a law that grants diplomas based on knowledge gained while in the military. When he was handed his diploma, the audience honored him with loud applause and a standing ovation.“I’m a walking history book,” said Fett while talking about the knowledge he gained through his military career. “Here [in a traditional school] you learn history, but I lived through it,” he continued, listing major events he witnessed.Fett was laid off from his job in October 2010 and hopes that his new diploma will help him secure a better job.Four students addressed their fellow graduates and the audience, offering light-hearted words of advice, encouragement and congratulations.Two of the speeches also included unconventional musical segments.“Class of 2011, I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed and appreciated spending the past years with you, but simple words cannot express it,” said Garrett Scohmann. “So someone’s going to pass me my guitar and I’ll just sing it to you.”He then played “Bob Dylan’s Dream.”The class valedictorian, Julia Mizutani, gave a humorous speech and talked about how Hollywood high schools, like the ones portrayed in “High School Musical” and “Glee,” show students randomly breaking out into song and dance, which she said “never happens.” Music then filled the auditorium and she started dancing across the stage, quickly joined in a choreographed routine by other graduates and members of the orchestra.Guidance counselor Karen Pogoda read a list of scholarships and awards won by the graduates. There were several awards of $500 as well as one award each of $6,000, $5,000 and $4,000. Pogoda said she was pleased to announce that despite the slow economic times, more than $160,000 was awarded to the students to help them continue their education.The vast majority of the Stissing Mountain class of 2011 will be furthering their education at institutes of higher learning.Many students are attending schools throughout New York state, including Cornell University, Dutchess Community College, SUNY schools and the Culinary Institute of America.Others will be attending school out-of-state at institutes such as Westfield State College, Johnson & Wales University and the University of Vermont.Two students have joined the military.Before the ceremony started, the students lined up behind the scenes to wait for the procession into the auditorium. They donned their caps and gowns and talked excitedly, and for some, a little nervously, too.“Oh my god! Five minutes!” exclaimed Nikki Lengyel, referring to how much longer the group had to wait before they were officially done with high school.“Actually, it’s more like two hours,” another student corrected her, jokingly.The group quickly moved on to talk about what it felt like to finally reach the end of their high school careers.Alexa Betts said, “I don’t think it has hit me yet.”Andrew Hieronymi-Mungo countered some of the excitement with, “I don’t feel any different.” A few other students nodded in agreement.No matter how excited, nervous or calm the students felt before the ceremony, their feelings afterward were evident by the smiles that lit every face when they were greeted with hugs and congratulations by friends and family on the campus lawn.

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