PORTVILLE — The Class of 2020 at Portville Central School graduated outdoors under the lights from the football field Saturday night — a ceremony that ended with fireworks, much to the delight of the crowd.

A big screen parked at one end of the field allowed the crowd to view everything going on while they listened via the radio and the public address system broadcasting the event. The scoreboard reflected a score of 20-20 with 20:20 left on the clock.

A processional from the school ushered the 73 graduates through the tunnel to sit 6 feet apart on the bleachers under a number of maroon, white and black balloons. The students faced a football field full of about 100 vehicles packed with family and friends, some who were outside their vehicle and some standing through sunroofs, all cheering, whistling and honking their horns.

An invocation by Renee Cook thanked God “for guiding us through this unexpected and challenging chapter of our lives and for all of the opportunities you have given us.”

Senior class president, Autumn Gagliardo, followed. After reminiscing about days at PCS, from kindergarten to their two class trips, she spoke of the challenges of their last semester.

“Our senior class has had an experience like no other ever has, and hopefully no other future class will have to go through again — a global pandemic,” she said. “However, I feel that in this time we have made the best of it. From talking in our senior group chat nearly every day, to making an Instagram and Facebook page for each other to post about what we will be doing after graduation.

“Through this COVID-19 crisis, we have made the best from what we have faced. … Our teachers have been the most supportive and thoughtful people throughout this time, and for that I just want to thank you all for everything that you do and have done for us throughout the years.”

Emily Griffith, salutatorian, spoke of the things missed this year like birthdays celebrated by drive-bys and a prom that was missed altogether. She talked of striving for perfection and remaining creative thinkers.

“Don’t stress too much about what we didn’t have this year,” she said. “Some schools get expensive Senior trips. We got a black tarp, a hose, some soap, and a campground in the middle of nowhere. And that is all we needed. The Class of 2020 will go down in history, but it won’t be because of what we missed out on. It’ll be for what we created.”

Following the presentation of awards by Lawrence Welty, junior/senior high school principal, where it was noted that the seniors had collectively been awarded $2,288,612 in scholarship funds, valedictorian of the class, Shayla Wilhelm, spoke to her classmates. She spoke words of encouragement, reminding them to take pride and remember that nothing can keep them down.

“Many of the students seated here, including myself, were born in the aftermath of 9/11, and now, we are reborn in a struggling world,” she said. “How must we go on in aspiration of our dreams when the job market is dwindling along with national morale? The answer is simple ─

COVID can’t keep us quiet. Every single member of this year’s senior class has and will continue to raise their voice and use their skills in times of peril to illuminate the greater good.”

Wilhelm also spoke of Panther Pride.

“Portville is a very special place, a very close-knit community filled with caring people, and our school district as a whole has undoubtedly accomplished the seemingly impossible with Panther Pride during this unprecedented time,” Wilhelm said.

“Given our current circumstances, I believe we have all broadened our gaze to expect the unexpected. Face adversity with pride and confidence, if COVID can’t keep you quiet now, nothing can stop you in the future. Choose fight over flight when dealing with obstacles in the path of life, and most importantly, never forget Mr. (Gary) Swetland’s message. “Go where you need to go and do what you need to do, but do good.”

The Charge of the Candidates by Welty was followed by the Acceptance of the Candidates by Daniel Wenke, Board of Education president and Tom Simon, superintendent. The Alma Mater was sung and a benediction from Justus Zeigler, thanking God “for allowing all of us to be here and graduate regardless of all the troubling events that have taken place leading up to this time.”

At that, after the honking of horns and cheering of family and friends, the crowd was instructed to look to the right, where an approximate 15-minutes-long firework display put the end to an unusual graduation ceremony at the end of an unusual school year.

Graduates

Samantha Rae Agett, Regents Diploma and Alfred Alumni Scholarship.

Austin Ravenel Babb, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation.

Jordyn Nicole Babb , Regents Diploma, Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship and JBC Junior Academic Progress Award.

Austin Ray Beaver, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement.

Jarrett Dee Best, Regents Diploma.

Angel M. Blade, Regents Diploma.

Savannah Lynn Brewer, Regents Diploma.

Breanna Ives Brown, Regents Diploma.

Tyler Clayton Burkett, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement and Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship.

Kirsten Renae Burton, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement.

Danae Lynn Carrier, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors with Mastery in Science, Harold E. Moulton Scholarship, Fredonia’s President’s Award for Excellence and Fredonia’s Honors Award.

Jason Chacon, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Mastery in Science and Alfred State’s Educational Foundation Academic Distinction Scholarship.

Bryar Dawn Childs, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Mastery in Science, USA Scholarship and Dr. & Mrs. H. Childress Scholarship.

Kaitlynn Clune, Regents Diploma and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Renee Lynzi Cook, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Mastery in Science, Laura Jopling Scholarship, Portville College Scholarship, USA Scholarship, Portville Youth Cheerleading Scholarship, Michele Foss Bartholomew “Good Person” Scholarship, Adam C. Elliott Memorial Scholarship, Dr. Donald A. Wormer Family Scholarship and Verna Harbeck Amarenth Memorial Scholarship.

Corissa Jean Cousins, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement, Excellence in Vo-Tech Scholarship, Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship and Go Beyond NYS Award.

Kiersten Katherine Ferguson, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with Mastery in Science and USA Scholarship.

Autumn Taylor Gagliardo, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, Portville College Scholarship, Portville Theater Boosters Scholarship, Portville Youth Cheerleading Scholarship and Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship.

Ainslie Morgan Gardner, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement, Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship, Bernice Pierson Memorial Scholarship and Alfred University’s Saxon Award Scholarship.

Andre Dana William Gayton, Regents Diploma with Honors and Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship.

Kassidy Abigail Gehm, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, Portville College Scholarship, Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship, Daemen Dean’s Scholarship and Daemen College Trustee Scholarship.

Allison Caeley George, Regents Diploma.

Justin Michael Gibbons, Regents Diploma with Honors, Burt Scholarship, Gregory D. Spring Perseverance Scholarship, Bonas Provost Scholarship, Bonas Grant and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Emily E. Griffith, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors with Mastery in Science, Laura Jopling Scholarship, Arts & Antique Show Scholarship, Alfred State Distinguished Scholars Excellence in Education Scholarship and Portville Faculty Association Excellence in Education Scholarship.

Kirkland Andrew Hall, Regents Diploma and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Jillian B. Hlasnick, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, Student Council Scholarship, United BOCES Teachers Association Scholarship, Signe H. Johnson Scholarship, Portville College Scholarship and Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship.

Addison Michael Howard, Regents Diploma.

Harlee Reanne Howard, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement and Go Beyond NYS Award.

Jonathan Zayde-Amaro Jordan, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Mastery in Science, Bonas Provost Scholarship and John Andrew’s Memorial Scholarship.

Cameron Michael Kalsman, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation.

Kelly Nicole Karnuth, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement, Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship and Verna Harbeck Amarenth Memorial Scholarship.

Natalie Ann Karnuth, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Julie Christine Kuhn, Regents Diploma with Honors w/CTE Endorsement, Fredonia’s Dean’s Scholars Award, Vivian Marsh Memorial Scholarship and Fredonia’s Honors Scholarship.

Jonathan Ashley Lassiter II, Regents Diploma.

Dylan Alexander Main, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement.

Katelyn Anne McVinney, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, Elmhurst College Trustee Scholarship, Out of State Grant and Elmhurst Grant.

Derek Mikolajczyk, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation w/CTE Endorsement and The Robert “Dean” Travis Memorial Scholarship.

Julian William Morales, Regents Diploma, Laura Jopling Scholarship, Arts & Antique Show Scholarship, Bob & Barbara McCord & Jack Karl Scholarship, Ben & Rose Schwabenbauer Educational Scholarship, Lyman Baker Memorial Scholarship, Lt. Mike Murphy Foundation Scholarship and ROTC National Scholarship.

Tyler Morris, Regents Diploma.

Kamil Murawski, Regents Diploma.

Brennan Jared Niver, Regents Diploma, Arts & Antique Show Scholarship and Lyman Baker Memorial Scholarship.

Katherine Elizabeth Nothem, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors with Mastery in Science, Student Council Scholarship, Laura Jopling Scholarship, Roberts Wesleyan College Presidential Academic Scholarship, Dawne Evans Joseph Memorial Scholarship, Lee Frair Scholarship and National Honor Society Scholarship; Parker Michael Page, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement and Child Development Associate Award.

Gabrielle Virginia Pasquale, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement.

Eric Jon Perkins, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement.

Kameron Person, Regents Diploma and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Tucker Mark Prockton, Regents Diploma and Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship.

Harley D. Robinson, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors with Mastery in Science, Red Cross Scholarship, Portville College Scholarship and Alfred State Distinguished Scholars Excellence in Education Scholarship.

Tyler Reese Robinson, Regents Diploma and JCC Workforce Readiness Scholarship.

Tayler Rene Rogers, Regents Diploma and Go Beyond NYS Award.

Tyler James Rung, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Hunter Lee Saltsman, Regents Diploma and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Maddison Paige Schoonover, Regents Diploma, Portville College Scholarship, Dr. Donald A. Wormer Family Scholarship and USA Scholarship.

Damien Smith, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors with Mastery in Science, NYS Excelsior Scholarship and USA Scholarship.

William Patrick Stebbins, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Mastery in Science.

Shannen Stein, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation w/CTE Endorsement and Student Council Scholarship.

Layne Ann Stephen, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, Laura Jopling Scholarship, ARA Foundation, Chautauqua Cattaraugus Board of Realtors Scholarship, Portville College Scholarship and Bona Provost Scholarship.

Michael Joseph Stillman, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement and Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship.

Maggie Grace Swartwout, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement.

Reece Colette Swetland, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors, Chuck Bretzin Jr. Scholarship for Outstanding Student Council Member, Portville College Scholarship, Gregory D. Spring Perseverance Scholarship and RIT Presidential Scholarship.

Zayne Tarr, Local Diploma and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Roland Dan Thompson III, Regents Diploma, Alfred Alumni Scholarship, Tim Bushnell Memorial Scholarship, Portville Sports Boosters Exceptional Athlete Scholarship, Arts & Antique Show Scholarship, Arnold McHone Sr. Manufacturing Scholarship, Portville College Scholarship, Dresser Rand Scholarship and Eva M. Taggerty Memorial Scholarship.

Dalton Joseph Tobola, Local Diploma and Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award.

Isabella Marion Ursoy, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation.

Karly Jean Welty, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Portville Sports Boosters Exceptional Athlete Scholarship, Ben Schwabenbauer Scholarship sponsored by Olean Teachers & Postal Federal Credit Union Scholarship, Chuck Bretzin Jr. Scholarship for Outstanding Student Council Member, Laura Jopling Scholarship, Dave Waugh Memorial Scholarship, Arts & Antique Show Scholarship, BIG 30 Senior Classic Scholarship, Portville College Scholarship, Alfred Presidential Scholarship, Closer to Home Scholarship, Alfred Alumni Referral Scholarship, Hamilton Ward Memorial Scholarship, Cattaraugus County Board of Officials Scholarship, Lyman Baker Memorial Scholarship, Michele Foss Bartholomew “Good Person” Scholarship, Gregory D. Spring Perseverance Scholarship, Portville Faculty Association Excellence in Education Scholarship and Lt. Mike McGreevy Memorial Scholarship.

Chase Carlton Wenke, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, Student Council Scholarship, David Waugh Memorial Scholarship, Arts & Antique Show Scholarship, Patrick Shinners Memorial Team Player Scholarship, Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award and Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship.

Colton Jack Whitney, Regents Diploma.

Neleha Lyn Wiedemann, Regents Diploma w/CTE Endorsement, Portville Alumni Scholarship and Dr. Louise Merrick Scholarship.

Shayla Elizabeth Wilhelm, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation and Honors with Mastery in Math & Science, Laura Jopling Scholarship, Anderson Family Scholarship, John J. Murphy Family Scholarship, Portville College Scholarship, Florida Institute of Technology Full Tuition Scholarship, Crescent Electric Supply Company Scholarship and Adam C. Elliott Memorial Scholarship.

Elena Catherine Wilson, Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with Mastery in Science, Laura Jopling Scholarship, Bob & Barbara McCord & Jack Karl Scholarship, Portville Theater Booster Scholarship, Tara Todd Memorial Award, Houghton’s Dean Scholarship, Houghton’s Alumni Scholarship, Houghton College Grant and Shannon Scholarship.

Justus Richard Zeigler, Regents Diploma.

Wyatt Elliott Zink, Regents Diploma, Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award and JBC Junior Academic Progress Award.

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