by Larry Austin
The Grand Island High School Class of 2014 is a work in progress just like the school building from which they graduated Sunday.
During commencement ceremonies held Sunday, June 29, at Artpark in Lewiston, class valedictorian Emma MacIntyre likened the Class of 2014 to the school district, which is in the midst of a $50 million capital project. She told the 244 graduates, friends and families that "Our lives are currently under construction," with a foundation laid on four years at Grand Island High School.
MacIntyre said what matters is each graduates overall character and personality and how they use what they've learned to change the world around them. She thanked the teachers "for inspiring, educating and motivating us. You're all an integral part of our success, not only in school, but in the years to come."
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Teresa Lawrence recapped 2013-14 school year when she said the Class of 2014's senior year was from all angles and perspectives "a funky one. ... The space in which you came and went every day was largely under construction. You had a new principal, who promptly was injured and out for the first half of the year. You didn't have a senior cafeteria. Both the field and the auditorium were off limits at various points. Temporary walls were up, and a 20,000-square-foot addition was being built on the front lawn," she said.
"Not to mention the enormous eagle you relocated to the back parking lot," she said, referring to the senior prank, where the inflatable eagle in front of the Fuccillo Auto Group complex on Alvin Road was stolen.
"Everyone here with us today is under construction. The difference among us, however, is that you are the architects of our future," Lawrence said.
Similar to the capital project, Lawrence said, the Class of 2014 is built on a solid foundation of parents, friends, the tight-knit community of Grand Island, and years guided by teachers. Their skills, talents and abilities are their tools.
In the commencement address, Tracy Beatty, who is retiring from the district after more than 30 years as a French teacher at GIHS, thanked the graduates' parents for supporting education, and noted that many of them are GIHS alumni who returned to the Island to raise a family and send their children to Grand Island schools, as well.
"That doesn't happen in all communities. It's different here," Beatty said, adding that it was gratifying to her that the children she taught in the 1980s and 1990s "felt that they had gotten such a good education that they would provide their children with those opportunities in Grand Island."