BROCTON - The members of the Brocton Class of 2014 received their diplomas Saturday morning, and the celebration began as they tossed their hats into the air. A new journey was about to begin for the graduates - once they found where their caps landed.
The school welcomed its guest speaker, Brocton alumnus Capt. Charles Johnson. A member of the 1979 class, he graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. He received commission as an officer in the United States Navy and became designated as a Cryptologic Officer.
Johnson used a quote by John Wayne in giving advice to the graduates heading into the next phase in life. He utilized slides throughout his speech to give the crowd and the graduates a visual to further get his point.
At left, Capt. Charles Johnson, guest speaker, addresses the class and crowd at Brocton Central School’s commencement exercises Saturday. An alumnus of the 1979 class, he recently retired from the U.S. Navy, completing 30 years of service.
Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
"Life is hard; it's harder when you're stupid," Johnson said. "When that little meter in your head says you're about to become stupid, just say no."
He also talked to the class about graduating 35 years ago and having no idea what he wanted to do. But he knew he wanted to be in the military, and he retired from the U.S. Navy on Sept. 1, 2013. During his time in the Navy, he had the privilege to meet President George H.W. Bush along with being assigned to the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii.
"If you're lucky enough, you can travel to great places and have incredible experiences," Johnson said. "The military shaped my life. I'm extremely grateful for the U.S. Navy."
Salutatorian Jess Delcamp told her classmates that she could go on for hours talking about the memories from kindergarten all the way up to their last year. But she knew she didn't have that much time, so she named off a few special moments. Delcamp gave the class a piece of advice she received from her dad; "Just smile and wave."
"I sat down and really thought what it really meant," Delcamp said. "There's no point in getting upset about something that just can't be changed. There are so many things in our lives that we cannot control and the best to get past that is to smile and wave."
Valedictorian of the class, Tyler DeJoe, will be attending the Virginia Military Institute for international studies. DeJoe made his fellow classmates stand up twice during his speech, the first time to shake hands with each other and the second time to hug each other.
"As we move on with our lives, I ask that you to build upon your foundation, and remember it is here where you started," DeJoe said. "Take the memories and experiences that you have and use them. Remember the tough times we had with each other, homework, projects, deadlines, and life in general."
Between speeches were performances by the senior high chorus which sang, "Seize the Day" by Roger Emerson. The senior band performed "Coldplay on Stage." These performances allowed graduates to reflect on their days at school.
Following the performance by the band was the handing out of awards and scholarships. Next was the presentation of diplomas, which was the moment all graduates had waited for, according to Principal Jason Delcamp. With diplomas in hand, the Class of 2014 exited the gymnasium to the band playing, "Happy" by Pharrell.