The last graduates


Special to the OBSERVER

RIPLEY – The atmosphere was bittersweet as the Ripley Central School District held what could be its final commencement ceremony.

On Saturday, the 23 seniors of Ripley’s Class of 2013 received their diplomas in the high school gymnasium with the full knowledge that they may be the last class to do so within the confines of their own building.

Due to the impending five-year tuition agreement the district’s board of education recently made with Chautauqua Lake Central School, the district will begin sending its seventh- through 12th-grade students to Chautauqua Lake beginning with the next school year. The impact of this agreement was briefly alluded to by some of the ceremony’s speakers.

Valedictorian Eric Horstman offered his address with a reflection on his time at Ripley, adding a hint of remorse for future Ripley classes who won’t be able to share in his experiences.

“Ripley gave me every opportunity I ever wanted or needed,” said Horstman. “These experiences will follow me throughout my life, and have ultimately made me a better person. Ripley gave me a lot, and I’m thankful.

“But life has a way of changing the most constant things in life,” he added. “One of the best examples of this is the town’s decision to tuition students to Chautauqua Lake. Sadly, the old saying, ‘There is always next year,’ isn’t true. There won’t be a next year for Ripley High School. I wish all the underclassmen good luck at Chautauqua Lake, however, this is the end of an era in all of our lives.”

Horstman’s address was followed by the salutatory address, given by Cody Rater.

“I’m proud to say I’ll be graduating as a Ripley Eagle, but saddened to know that I’ll be the last,” Rater said.

Several awards were presented to students by Lauren Ormsby, principal, and other community members. The middle-high school chorus also performed vocal renditions of Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” and the national anthem. Graduating seniors Ashley Beatty, Danielle Chapman, Samantha Judd, Shanda Mellors and Sierra Tessmer performed Carrie Underwood’s “Whenever You Remember.”

Comments on behalf of the board of education were made by Nancy Rowe, vice president, and the keynote speaker was Philip C. Johnson, a 1971 Ripley graduate and preaching elder of the Ripley Presbyterian Church.

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