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The Wells Central School Class of 2014 (back, from left) Kenneth Chicoski, Seth Weaver, Johnny Page, Sean O'Connor, Benjamin Brenan, and John Biederman; and (front) Steve Tomlinson, Chelsea Simons, Matthew Michienzi, Jessica Rhodes, Breanna Mayer, and Stephen Raymond. (Photo/Cristine Meixner)

Former Class of 2014 advisor Kate Beck gave the Commencement Address. (Photo/Cristine Meixner)

Salutatorian Matthew Michienzi, left, gets a hug from Guidance Counselor Sharon Parslow. Retired third-grade teacher Sandy Orr is behind Parslow. (Photo/Cristine Meixner)

Junior Samantha Zemken accepts congratulations from Superintendent Thomas Sincavage upon receiving the University of Rochester Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award. Winners of the award are automatically considered for the Bausch + Lomb Science Scholarship. (Photo/Cristine Meixner)


Class of 2014 was 'a bit of a challenge'

Monday, June 30, 2014 - Updated: 5:41 PM



WELLS -- Former Wells Central School music teacher Kate Beck cried as she started the Commencement Address to "her" Class of 2014 Friday evening, June 27.

She was the class' advisor until leaving for another job last December. "Thank you for sharing your kids with me," she tearfully told the graduates' parents.

"These wonderful people on this stage were a bit of a challenge when they were younger," she continued. "Some of them had a hard time academically. A few of them even think they forced two of their teachers into early retirement. They were not easy, but for some reason I was drawn to them."

Beck shared something about each graduate before telling them, "I spent 14 years as your teacher... be yourselves... share with the world the person you've shared with me."

The graduates are John Biederman, Benjamin Brenan, Kenneth Chicoski, Breanna Mayer, Matthew Michienzi, Sean O'Connor, Johnny Page, Stephen Raymond, Jessica Rhodes, Chelsea Simons, Steven Tomlinson and Seth Weaver.


Valedictorian Jessica Rhodes said she had wanted to give words of wisdom in her speech, "but 18-year-olds are not known for their exceptional advice." Instead, she quoted from someone much older: Dr. Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go!"

The book says in part, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

"I hope our class will choose carefully the places we go," Rhodes concluded. Among many other awards she won the Liberty University Valedictorian Scholarship of $80,000 (full tuition for four years). The Christian university is located in Lynchburg, Va.


Salutatorian Matthew Michienzi said life is experiences and how one lives it. "We need to help one another, further advance society," he said. "Do simple things. Drop a dollar into a collection jar at the checkout line; it may seem little but it adds up to something great."

Among numerous other awards Michienzi won an Army ROTC Scholarship (full tuition at Niagara University) worth $131,600. Of 13,000 applicants, fewer than 2,000 won scholarships.

Baby, toddler and grade school pictures of almost every graduate garnered a round of applause for each. Created by graduate Breanna Mayer, "The Class of 2014" video moved on to sports, high school photos both in and out of class, proms, school trips and more, all set to music.


Samantha Zemken, representing the Junior Class, gave the Farewell Address. She told the grads, "It seems like just a couple of years ago we were all playing on the playground together... be who you are... lift the hearts of those around you as you did here."

And she quoted Maya Angelou: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

School Superintendent Thomas Sincavage noted, "Because we are southern Hamilton County's central high school, we have high school students from Piseco and Lake Pleasant, as well as from Wells and Hope. In fact, our valedictorian and salutatorian are both from the Piseco school district."

He asked the graduates to use their hard-earned education, believe in themselves, have hope, take it one day at a time and become life-long learners. "The sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless," he concluded.

Board of Education President Cathie Rust handed out the diplomas.


Two awards went to juniors: the University of Rochester Bausch & Lomb Science Award to Samantha Zemken and the Frederick Douglass / Susan B. Anthony Award to Gabrielle Tebo.

American Legion Post 1565 Award: Matthew Michienzi.

Athlete of the Year: Seth Weaver and Ben Brenan.

Betty Wight Memorial Award: Breanna Mayer.

Career & Tech Center: Matthew Michienzi for the highest average in the New Vision program.

Certificate of Excellence from National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists in Washington, D.C.: Matthew Michienzi.

Charlie Wight Memorial Award: Ben Brenan.

Crary Education Foundation Scholarships: Sean O'Connor, Breanna Mayer, Matthew Michienzi.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women's Consortium Award: Breanna Mayer.

Ellen Craig Memorial Scholarship: Jessica Rhodes and Matthew Michienzi.

FACE Scholarship from FMCC Faculty: Jessica Rhodes.

Family Consumer Science Award (an orange KitchenAid mixer): Breanna Mayer

Fireman's Association of New York: Steven Tomlinson.

FMCC College Foundation Award: Steven Tomlinson.

Fulton County Federal Credit Union Scholarship: Matthew Michienzi.

Hamilton County TWIGS Scholarship: Matthew Michienzi.

Hiram Craig Award: Seth Weaver.

Jeff Hunt Memorial Scholarships: Kenneth Chicoski, Chelsea Simons, Breanna Mayer.

Jodi Lee MacHattie Memorial Scholarship: Matthew Michienzi.

John E. Brewer Jr. Memorial Award: Seth Weaver.

Kenneth Muhlenbruch Foundation Scholarships: Matthew Michienzi, Breanna Mayer, Jessica Rhodes, Seth Weaver, Sean O'Connor.

League MVP in Baseball: Seth Weaver.

Matty J. Rajca Scholarship: Seth Weaver.

Norman McGrattan Scholarship: Seth Weaver.

NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Certificate: Jessica Rhodes.

NYS Scholarship for Academic Excellence: Jessica Rhodes.

Paul Venier Memorial Award: Ben Brenan.

Phi Theta Kappa Award: Jessica Rhodes.

PIE Scholarship: Ben Brenan and Matthew Michienzi.

Principal's Award: Breanna Mayer.

Red Cross Scholarship: Breanna Mayer.

SADD Award: Chelsea Simons.

Speculator Lion's Club Scholarship: Matthew Michienzi.

Support Staff Association Award: Matthew Michienzi and Breanna Mayer.

Wayne and Guy Smith Award: Matthew Michienzi.

Wells Fish and Game Club Award: Breanna Mayer.

Wells Improvement Group Awards: Steven Tomlinson, Seth Weaver.

Wells Teachers' Assoc. Award: Ben Brenan, Breanna Mayer, Chelsea Simons, Jessica Rhodes, Seth Weaver, Matthew Michienzi.

Wells United Methodist Church Scholarships: Ben Brenan, Kenny Chicoski, Chelsea Simons.

William Aird Athletic Scholarship: Matt Michienzi.

Yearbook Club: all 12 graduates ($150 each).

Youth Citizenship Award given by the Soroptimist International Club: Steven Tomlinson.

Three staff members also received awards.

The Service Award went to school nurse Susan Menke, who is retiring.

The BOE Service Award: David Woodward.

Sincavage presented an Honorary Diploma to English Teacher Matthew Deibler, saying he has lived in eight states and is moving to North Carolina next month to finish his doctorate.

The Wells Central School Senior Chorus gave a lovely rendition of "Keep Holding On." (Photo/Cristine Meixner)

Wells Central School Class of 2014 Valedictorian Jessica Rhodes advised her classmates to choose carefully "the places we go" during her graduation speech Friday evening, June 27. (Photo/Cristine Meixner)


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