WATCH: Class of 2018 Commencement highlight reel

One hundred and twenty-two students representing the Class of 2018 graduated from Fonda-Fultonville High School during the school district’s 65th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 23.

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The celebration featured speeches by honor students Allison Codi, Nicholas Oertel, Alyson Shirley and Tyler Kearns. U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Ciaccio and high school Principal Aaron Grady offered words of encouragement and advice to the graduates.

Ciaccio’s speech was inspired by a radio talk show in which the host was talking about the four principles of flight.

“It made me think of all of you flying to different destinations and soaring to new heights as you move onto this next phase in your life,” he said. “As they described the four principles — lift, thrust, weight and drag — it made me stop and think about how this concept is important to all of us. It actually symbolizes the different people we come in contact with every day, and how important it is to surround ourselves with those that support and contribute to our success.”

Ciaccio talked about how parents, friends, teachers and coaches as the people who lift, which is the principal that allows an aircraft to soar upward.  He said mentors are the people who push one another, thrust them forward and give them the power to reach high elevations. There are also people who weigh others down and try to limit what they can become, and people who will try to drag others away from what’s important.

“As you begin to board this plane that will take you on your journey, continue to surround yourself with those that lift you up, not those that weigh you down,” Ciaccio said. “Allow those mentors to help you grow and thrust you forward, don’t let others drag you away from what is important to you.  If you do this, your plane will soar to amazing heights and land in destinations that will lead you to success.”