PORTVILLE — The senior class of Portville Central School once again graduated outdoors under the lights from the football field Friday night — a ceremony that once again ended with a long display of fireworks.
While the crowd filtered in, a large projection screen showed baby and senior photos of the grads, with their name and parents name, favorite memories and future plans. Families were seated not in cars like last year, but in a six-chair section per graduate, facing the football bleachers.
The Class of 2021 procession entered their commencement on the stage two-by-two through a white curtain behind the podium. Maroon, white and black balloons decorated the stands and flower arrangements added to the festive atmosphere of the night.
To the cheers of the crowd after a welcome by Portville High School Principal Larry Welty and the performance of the national anthem, Welty gave a word of thanks to everyone there.
“… We have made it through a school year like no other, and we would not be in this position that we are right now without your unwavering support of all the different decisions that were made throughout the school year,” he said. “PCS cannot thank you enough for the commitment and the all in attitude that you have exhibited to our children. You all deserve a round of applause. Thank you.
An invocation by Ethan Dean was then given, concluding with a prayer for healing and comfort for Colt Matz and the Matz family.
Senior class president Matthew R. Snyder was not able to deliver an address to his class, as he was at U.S. Marine Corp at Parris Island. S.C. Jayden Lassiter read Snyder’s speech on his behalf.
“We have spent the last 13 years learning and experiencing everything this school has had to give us,” Lassiter said. “Although every experience may not be shared evenly amongst each other because we all live different lives, I think that experiences that we do share will mostly likely become memories.”
He went on to talk about the three biggest lessons Snyder learned through sports in accepting defeat, pushing through adversity and accepting criticism. He spoke fondly of the memories that the class share on their many outings through several years together.
Jacqueline Daley, salutatorian, spoke of the Portville community-at-large.
“…Throughout these times of struggle, we were able to create a sense of unity within the community, which is something that makes our town of Portville special,” she said. “Together, we lift each other up and lend a helping hand that always leaves a smile. And for that, I’m very proud.
Daley went on to talk about significance in an individual’s life and how struggle can make someone push themselves to succeed.
She concluded “Even though this year skewed in a direction that none of us could have seen coming, I think that it actually made it memorable in our own way,” Daley concluded. “We adapted to the changes made and now we can remark on how we survived the societal effects of COVID-19, how we continuously wore masks, distanced ourselves and worked remotely when necessary. We did all of this to protect those we care about and those that we love. Even with all of the restrictions, we were able to enjoy ourselves, and this year was definitely a unique one. I don’t think I’ll forget it that easily.”
Following the presentation of awards by Lawrence Welty, junior/senior high school principal, valedictorian of the class, Alexa Steighner, spoke to her classmates. She thanked her teacher, Matt Milne, and spoke of the Portville community at large.
I would like to thank Mr. Milne for this mindset that he instilled in us at a young age. His line of, “Be the weather maker” has echoed through my head all during high school. Up until that point in my life, I relied on those around me to determine my mood and my perspective. If they were mad then I should be mad. If they were laughing it meant I should be laughing too. I quickly learned that this mentality of letting others control my happiness was flawed. In reality, I was the only one that should be controlling how I felt. I was in complete control of my brain and how I viewed the world. If I mastered the art of independent thought then I could be in more control of my life. I wouldn’t have to have as many bad days or as many unpleasant thoughts. I could instead look at the silver linings and bright spots of my life.
“As the years went on and I began to see the effectiveness of this consciousness, I began to see that this was the way that Portville and in turn all of its students were trying to live their lives. Portville Central School didn’t let the tone of the world during the pandemic get in its way. Instead, Portville decided to remain optimistic and do what was best for the student body and all staff. They chose to reopen in the fall five days a week to help those who relied on the school and its resources. They chose to provide lunch to all students during this hard time. They also allowed the seniors to have the most memorable senior year in the safest way possible. Even though this wasn’t always easy, they still prevailed and kept a positive mentality. They never gave up and didn’t let the hardships get in their way.
She concluded with a quote from Christopher Robin of Pooh fame, “As Christopher Robin said, ‘You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.’”
The Charge of the Candidates by Welty was followed by the Acceptance of the Candidates by Tom Simon, superintendent. Simon and Daniel Wenke, Board of Education president, presented the long-awaited diplomas.
+The Alma Mater was sung followed by a benediction from Regina Tkacik. A fireworks display lasting about 15 minutes that put the end to a difficult year where the school administration, teachers, staff, students and parents worked together to keep school open throughout the year.
2021 Portville Central School District graduates include: Kaedence C. Ault; Randy D. Babb; Taylor K. Beck; Tori G. Beck; Jacob J. Billings; Maddix Raine Jolii Bishop; Ryan J. Bokman; Maura London Burke; Ethan James Burton; Alyssa Renee Bushnell; Faith E. Capito; Felecia M. Capito; Analise Faith Clune; Jacqueline P. Daley; Ethan V. Dean; Brooke LeeAnn DeYoe-Vanscoter; Olivia L. Emley; Alexandria Estabrook; Cory Feneran; Kayleigh M. Forrest; Levi Samuel Ganoung; Blake N. George; Shayden J. Gibble; Kylee M. Gibbons; Makayla Nicole Gilroy; Gabrielle M. Green; Hunter Thomas Griffin; Kylee Elizabeth Hammond; Tayalynn Harris; Angela Hernandez*; Mia Jane Hlasnick; Elena Margaret Isaman; Cody A. Isenberg; Hailey Erin Keim; Hailey M. Kellogg; Xavier Edward Kenjockety; Monica B. Kintner; Carley M. LaFever; Connor Michael LaFever; Jayden A. Lassiter; Daisy Lee Layton; Paige O. Lengvarsky; Kayla Nicole Little; Trent W. Lockwood; Corissa Brooke Loncher; Joseph Martin Long; Macy L. Lotter; Olivia Joyce Marshall; Emma Rose Mikolajczyk; Torianne Rachelle Morrow; Maggie Brynn O’Connell; Jack C. Pagett; Dominic Nazzareno Pascucci; Cody R. Perkins; Delaney Ann Pettit; Mackenzie V. Pilon; Autumn N. Reed; Shannon M. Rocheleau; Destiny Marie Rung; Devyn J. Schoen; Alan Schultz-Cone; Destiny R. Shaw*; Kaleb Dylan Shaw; Keona Marie Shorter; Michael E.C. Small; Katherine R. Smith; Lucas D. Smith; Victoria Ann Mahrye Smith; Matthew R. Snyder; Damien E. Sorvillo; Alexa May Steighner; Braxton G. Stone; Kyle J. Stone; Caleb J. Stromberg; Cameron H. Thurst; Regina Mary Tkacik; Ryan James Unverdorben; Grace Hamonee Ward; Adam J. Weatherley; Leah E. Weimer; Alex M. Wenke; Nicholas Charles Whippo; Laura Iris Wilhelm; Kaitlyn Elizabeth Williams; Trey Joseph Williams; Hailey Rose Wyant; Hailey Elizabeth Young; and Jared Nicholas Zenner.
* denotes Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential.
Awards were presented to: The Portville Faculty Association is proud to present the award for Excellence in Education. A scholarship in the amount of $250 each goes to two students this year, Jacqueline Daley and Ethan Dean, as chosen by the PCS faculty; The Frair Fund Award was established anonymously to honor the late Lee A. Frair, former graduate, teacher, administrator and leader at Portville Central School. This $500 award is presented to a senior who is honest, decent, hardworking and nice, with plans to further his or her education. This year’s award goes to Jack Pagett; The Dawne Evans Joseph Scholarship Memorial Award is presented to an outstanding senior who has demonstrated excellence in the field of music and who plans to attend college with a strong interest in the field of music. This $500 award goes to Kaleb Shaw; The Dr. Louise Merrick Memorial Scholarship was created to be awarded to those seniors who will honor the values and pride of Portville Central School long after graduation. This year’s recipients of $2,000 each are: Ethan Dean, Olivia Emley, Hunter Griffin, Mia Hlasnick, Hailey Keim, Connor LaFever, Daisy Layton, Emma Mikolajczyk, Dominic Pascucci, Regina Tkacik, Trey Williams, and Hailey Wyant; The Excellence in Vo-Tech Scholarship goes to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding academics and performance in their Career Tech program at BOCES. The year’s award goes to Hunter Griffin; The 2021 Art & Antique Committee Scholarship Winners are students who volunteered their time at the annual Art & Antique shows. Applicants submitted essays on “what it means to be a Portville Panther” and how they have witnessed these traits in someone in the school community. This year’s senior recipients of $600 each are: Jacqueline Daley, Monica Kintner, Torianne Morrow, Jack Pagett, Dominic Pascucci, and Caleb Stromberg; This year we are proud to present the Michele Foss Bartholomew “Good Person” Scholarship to person(s) who exemplifies the qualities that were so much a part of Michele. Michele Foss Bartholomew was tragically killed in an auto accident at a very young age.This scholarship is a memorial to the wonderful person she was. The recipients are young women who demonstrate a love for life and people, with respect and courtesy to all. They, like Michele, have a strong work ethic and are involved in the school and community, as well as high school athletics. These outstanding young women always have a smile for everyone, and make you want to smile when you are around them. They are each planning to attend college and pursue a field in a health or education related profession. The recipients of the 2021 Michele Foss Bartholomew Good Person Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 are Mia Hlasnick and Regina Tkacik; The Laura Jopling Scholarship is awarded to a senior as a reward and incentive for their academic excellence. Laura Jopling was a long-time elementary teacher at Portville Central School. Five scholarships are awarded this year for $1,500 each. This year’s awards go to Alexa Steighner, Laura Wilhelm, Ethan Dean, Torianne Morrow, and Regina Tkacik; The Portville Sports Boosters are pleased to present the “Exceptional Athlete Award” to two athletes that have shown leadership, dedication, teamwork, sportsmanship and overall athletic success during their career here at Portville. The recipients of this $500 scholarship are Hunter Griffin and Regina Tkacik; The ACE Scholarship was established in memory of Adam Clair Elliott, a 2006 Portville graduate who died following a tragic accident at Letchworth State Park. The scholarship is presented to a senior who displays the same qualities as Adam: academic excellence, dedication to family, school and community and strong Christian values. This year we are happy to present the award to Laura Wilhelm; The Allegany Mountains Chapter of the Association of Former NYS Troopers awards a scholarship to three students one in each county of Chautauqua, Allegany, and Cattaraugus who are pursuing a degree in the field of law. This year’s Cattaraugus winner is Ethan Dean; The Karen Kunz Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a senior with a commitment to school and community involvement and is pursuing a Business/Accounting degree. The award for $500 goes to Jack Pagett; U.F.C.W. Local One and TOPS Market award a scholarship to employees who have outstanding scholastic achievement. This year the $1000 award goes to Caleb Stromberg; The Mike McGreevy Memorial Scholarship is awarded as an annual merit-based scholarship to eligible recipients who exemplify Mike’s positive spirit and dedication to serving others. A graduate of Portville Central School, Mike was killed in action on June 28, 2005, in Afghanistan while he and seven other SEALS were attempting to rescue four fellow teammates under enemy fire on the ground. Mike McGreevy made a remarkable, positive impact on the world and the creators of this fund wish to assist individuals in living their lives with the same integrity that he did. This year’s scholarship goes to Laura Wilhelm. She will receive $4000 per year over 4 years; Additionally, Jacqueline Daley has been awarded a one-time $5000 scholarship from the Mike Murphy Foundation in memory of Lt. Mike Murphy who was the leader of the SEAL team who was killed in the same combat mission as Mike McGreevy. Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the operation; The Anderson Family Scholarship is awarded to a student who has demonstrated a record of sound character and leadership, involved in school activities such as music, arts, drama, and/or athletics with a record of service to community and/or church. This year there are three recipients of a $2,000 scholarship from the Anderson family. They are Laura Wilhelm, Alexa Steighner, and Regina Tkacik; The Chuck Bretzin Jr. Scholarship goes to a graduating senior who has exhibited a true enthusiasm for the mission of the Student Council. Chuck Bretzin, Jr. was Student Council President his Jr. and Sr. year at PCS, 1974-76. Of all his high school experiences, Chuck cherished his involvement in the Student Council at PCS as his #1 honor. This leadership training prepared him to face his later responsibilities with confidence. This perpetual scholarship is a gift of thanks in his memory for what the Student Council did for Chuck. This year’s recipient is Hailey Wyant; Additionally, Student Council is proud to award Student Council Scholarships to the following: Faith Capito, Felecia Capito, Jacqueline Daley, Emma Mikolajczyk, Torianne Morrow, and Alex Wenke for their dedication and hard work as student council members; This year the Air Preheater Benevolent Club is awarding the APB Scholarship to an outstanding senior for their continued hard work and dedication to academics and extracurriculars. This $1000 award goes to Blake George; Our next award is the Tim Bushnell Memorial Scholarship. Alyssa Bushnell, daughter of Tim and a graduating senior, will be presenting the award; The Bernice Pierson Memorial Scholarship is given to a senior going into education possessing the qualities that exemplified Bernice while a teacher here at Portville Central School. This year’s award goes to Kaleb Shaw; The Lyman Baker Memorial Scholarship is presented annually to a student entering an area of law enforcement. This student represents the values, traits, and work ethic of the late Chief Baker with a willingness to perform community service with local organizations. This year’s award goes to Ethan Dean; The Robert “Dean” Travis Memorial Scholarship has been established to keep the memory of the 1955 Portville graduate by giving $2,500 to a student graduating from the district that not only excels in the classroom but is also active in the community and extracurricular activities with plans to attend a 4-year college. This award goes to Nicholas Whippo; Jamestown Business College is proud to present two awards. The first, the Academic Progress Award, goes to a senior who has shown strong academic progress, good citizenship and strong work ethic. This award valued at $25,200 goes to Jared Zenner; The second award is JBC’s College Access Award, is given to a senior who has done well academically and is pursuing a degree in Business. This award valued at $80,000 goes to Kylee Gibbons; The Dave Waugh Memorial Scholarship is given this year to two students who exemplify the characteristics that were so important to Mr. Waugh in the classroom and in sports. These students always gave 110% both on and off the field. The winners of these $1000 awards are Alexa Steighner and Caleb Stromberg; The Harold E. Moulton Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding senior who resides in the West Clarksville Township. This scholarship is renewable for up to four years. This year’s award of $2000 goes to Kayla Little; The Amaranth Verna Harbeck Memorial Scholarship is available to two seniors planning to go into the medical field. The basis of winning the scholarship is a combination of class average, need and letters of recommendation. This year’s winners are Felecia Capito and Hailey Wyant; The Portville Alumni Association Scholarship is available for students planning to attend college, vocational school, or other continuing education; The recipient should be a well-rounded student who balances their academic pursuits with work, community service, and extra-curricular activities. Congratulations to this year’s award winners, Jacqueline Daley and Kaleb Shaw; The Ty Hoagland Perseverance Award, given by the Long family, recognizes those who, despite challenges and adversity, have persevered to succeed academically. This year’s awards go to the following graduates: Tori Beck, Alexandria Estabrook, Angela Hernandez, Cody Isenberg, Trent Lockwood, Cody Perkins, Mackenzie Pilon, Destiny Shaw, Michael Small, Jared Zenner; The Vivian Marsh Memorial Scholarship goes to a student with plans to attend Fredonia State College for education. This year’s award goes to Olivia Emley and Keona Shorter.
Each year the Cattaraugus County Community Foundation awards several different scholarships to students around the county. This year Portville Central students have again received several of those awards, including: The Alyn J. Hein Music Scholarship is awarded to a senior pursuing a degree in music education. This year’s winner of $1,250 is Kaleb Shaw; The Gregory D. Spring Perseverance Scholarship is awarded to students who have overcome hardship with a positive attitude. This year’s the recipients are Alyssa Bushnell, Caleb Stromberg, Kaleb Shaw, and Lucas Smith; The Burt Scholarship is given to a senior who has demonstrated academic excellence. This year’s award of $1,250 is Katherine Smith; The Signe H. Johnson Scholarship is given to a student pursuing a teaching degree and who has strong career goals. This award of $1,100 is given to Monica Kintner; The Deputy Wayne Kreiger and Carol Kreiger Scholarship is awarded to a student going into the field of law and who attends the criminal Justice program at BOCES. This year’s $1200 winner is Lucas Smith; The Arnold McHone Sr Manufacturing Scholarship is awarded to a senior continuing their education at a technical college. This award of $1800 goes to Hunter Griffin; Laura Wilhelm is the recipient of the John J Murphy Family Scholarship for her academic achievement, extracurricular participation and leadership. She receives a $2500 scholarship; The Eva M. Taggerty Memorial Scholarship is awarded to a senior attending college in a career related field and have attended BOCES. This year’s award for $500 goes to Cody Isenberg; The Ben & Rose Schwabenbauer Educational Scholarship is given to seniors pursuing education in college and who have demonstrated high academics. This year the award of $1,000 goes to Olivia Emley; The Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship is given to students who have demonstrated a positive attitude during challenging times. This year’s winners are Caleb Stromberg and Maggie O’Connell; Dr. Donald A Wormer Family Scholarship is awarded to Portville Central seniors planning to pursue a degree in the medical field and demonstrate academic success. This year the recipients are Alexa Steighner, Felecia Capito, and Jacqueline Daley; The Portville College Scholarships are given to seniors who have helped throughout high school with the PCS phonation or school store. This year’s recipients are: Alyssa Bushnell, Alexa Steighner, Dominic Pascucci, Faith Capito, Felecia Capito, Hailey Wyant, Jacqueline Daley, Kayleigh Forrest, Kaitlyn Williams, Lucas Smith, Mia Hlasnick, and Regina Tkacik.