Graduates rule O.V. ‘House of Noise’

BRANDON — There was some pretty deep thinking going on in Brandon this past Saturday morning. Valedictorian Jack Markoski should consider a career in philosophy instead of psychology after his speech to 102 fellow classmates at the Otter Valley Union High School 2010 graduation ceremony.
Markoski evoked Kerouac, Thoreau and J.R.R. Tolkien as he urged his peers not to be complacent, to wander, to explore, to dream, and to use their imaginations.
“In high school, we begin drawing the map that we hope will lead us to our destination,” he said. “My word to you today is to put that map aside.”
It may have been raining outside, but the mood was bright in the House of Noise (a k a, the OV gym) as hundreds of family members, friends and OV staff cheered the students moving on to the next phase of their lives.
“I’m about to throw up all over,” joked an excited Courtney Arnold of Whiting as she waited with her friends in the cafeteria before the ceremony.
When asked why she was so nervous, she simply said, “Because this is it.”
Fellow graduating seniors Ashley Mattison of Whiting and Devin Dunn of Brandon were waiting in the hallway before the class had to line up for graduation. While Dunn was also nervous, Mattison, who is headed to Clarkson University to study biology, said she was excited.
“I can’t wait to go,”  she said smiling.
Erica Stone of Brandon was waiting a bit farther down the hall.
“I’m very excited, and nervous,” she said.
She was asked what she was nervous about.
“Falling,” she said simply, and showed off the flip-flops she wore to assure steadiness on her feet.
Geoffry McDonald and Michael Capen were much more relaxed as they waited for the ceremony to begin. McDonald will be moving to Tennessee to study mixed martial arts, and may pursue a career in law enforcement.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,”  he said. “It probably won’t until next fall when everyone goes back and I’m in Tennessee.”
Capen is joining the U.S. Army and will go through basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He hopes to eventually join Special Forces. Capen was a man of few words, saying he wasn’t particularly moved by graduation.
“I take change very easily,” he said.
The ceremony itself was dedicated to the memory of classmate Jacob Billings, who in June 2007 was killed in a hay baling accident on the family farm in Pittsford. He was 16 years old.
In his speech, Salutatorian Richard Poro asked for a moment of silence to remember Billings.
“This day cannot pass without us remembering our fellow classmate Jacob Billings,” Poro said. “Jacob’s passing has left a major void in our class and our community.”
The 18 year-old Markoski, who is headed to the University of Vermont on a full scholarship, adopted a fateful message, saying that all the planning in the world can’t predict the unknown, so the best thing to do is what children do.
“It’s easy to lose sight of our most extravagant dreams and belief in our limitless potential,” he said. “I refuse to let go of all that I have imagined for myself, my community, and the world … Imagine, if in these past 18 years, we have dreamt the infinite as children, what is to come if we maintain those dreams as we age — if we search for them, nurture them, and grow with them?”

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