PUB CHAT: Obtaining the HS diploma, the first big obstacle | Education


If there’s a more exciting day in a young person’s life than the day they graduate from high school, I don’t think I know what it is.

There are of course other important days – when you passed that big test, when you scored the winning goal in the section final, when you got that college acceptance letter, when your crush finally said yes to a date. And of course, there will be other big days ahead…a wedding day maybe, the birth of kids, maybe the day you land that great job.

But for pure excitement – perhaps tempered by a bit of natural anxiety – there’s nothing more special than high school graduation day when we all celebrate our first big accomplishment as a adult and can say, “I did it!”

According to some numbers I found online, the roughly 27,000 US public and private high schools graduate about 3.7 million students each year. The graduation rate is around 85% these days, the highest it’s ever been. This “Pub Chat”, however, is not intended to debate the merits of the American educational system; it’s more to celebrate the class of 2022.

To commemorate graduation season in our imprint, the Finger Lakes Times has produced a special 32-page section that you will find in today’s newspaper, “Graduation 2022.” Through the heroic efforts of editor Alan Brignall (Waterloo High School, class of 1985), with cover design by chief photographer Spencer Tulis (Suffield Academy, Connecticut, class of 1974) and the cooperation of school districts in the region, this supplement pays tribute to all graduates of 20 high schools in Ontario, Yates, Wayne and Seneca counties.

For years, our graduation section basically contained a few photographs of each graduation ceremony, as well as lists of graduates from all of the schools. In 2020, we changed things up and decided to go with a yearbook-style template, featuring portraits of all graduates from all 17 public high schools, as well as Emmanuel Baptist, East Palmyra Christian, and Finger Lakes Christian private schools. The idea was to give each hard-working graduate their due with a photo and create a keepsake to look back on all the students’ classmates years later, not just from their particular schools, but from across the region.

And when I called Alan’s efforts heroic, consider that there are almost 1,500 photos in the diploma section. Do you have any idea how long it takes to sharpen 1500 images with Adobe Photoshop? I would say you can ask Al, but be prepared in case he wants to throw something at you. Seriously, he worked on preparing these photos for about a month.

Then, after Ad Operations Coordinator Danielle Hagerman (Newark High School, Class of 2000) created the layout for the section’s 32 pages, working those photos around the congratulatory ads sold by our advertising staff led by principal Beth Kesel (Canandaigua Academy, class of 1978), Alan pulled it all together – and yours truly (CW Baker High School, Baldwinsville, class of 1978) was the head grader.

As you may or may not be able to tell by this recap, it was quite an undertaking. But also, after seeing the finished product, quite rewarding for us. We hope you agree.

So now, with a major hurdle cleared, what awaits the Finger Lakes high school class of 2022? A recent story about referenced a nationwide online survey of 28,240 high school students, 74% of whom said they wanted to go to college, although nearly 1 in 3 said their plans after high school had changed since the pandemic. One girl wrote: “Before the pandemic I was very excited to go to college and have a full career. Now I don’t know what to do with my life. It scares me.”

I understand. Life offered enough challenges as before covid; now, in just 2½ short — but excruciatingly long — years it’s even harder.

However, to everyone in the high school class of 2022, whether you’re going to college, or working straight or learning a trade, or working, or just going to take some time off before to figure out exactly which path to take, everyone at the Finger Lakes Times wishes you health, happiness, and good fortune in all your future endeavours. Good work!

Mike Cutillo is the publisher and editor of Time. Contact him at (315) 789-3333, ext. 264, or [email protected]


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