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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 5, 2007

At Voorheesville
Graduates to represent themselves

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Smiles remained bright, even as a heavy rain fell on the Clayton A. Bouton High School graduation ceremony, sending small streams of water trickling down the aisles under the packed tent behind the school.

The class of 2007 walked with a joyous gait. The 118 graduates wore purple robes and caps with gold tassels, representing the colors of the Voorheesville Blackbirds. On the tent wall behind the chairs of the graduates were banners reading, "Voorheesville Class of 2007" and, "Congratulations Graduates."

The evening began as sunlight sparkled through a few stray clouds, and the Albany Police Pipes and Drums band played a processional. The school wind ensemble, directed by Christopher Jantson, played "Pomp and Circumstance" as school-board members, teachers, and administrators, all wearing black robes and caps, preceded the headliners of the evening – the graduates.

As members of the class of 2007 marched to their seats at the front of the tent, the audience cheered and clapped. The smiles on the faces of the graduates were contagious, and the atmosphere was jovial.

"Not a dumb jock"

Graduate Charles McGrail welcomed everyone and led the Pledge of Allegiance. The band followed with "The Star Spangled Banner."

Graduating seniors Mary Finn and Emily Clark took the podium to reflect on their high-school experience. They began talking about the opposite experiences they had had in their "formative" years and realized one of their classmates was absent.

Timothy Robinson – wearing an open flowing robe under which he wore black basketball shorts, white socks pulled up over his calves, and high-top basketball sneakers – came running down the aisle through the tent, cheering and slapping the hands of those sitting along the edge. Robinson was right on cue, as if his name had just been announced at the start of a big game.
Before joining Finn and Clark at the podium, Robinson slapped the outstretched hands of the board-of-education members who were seated in the front row.

"I am not a dumb jock," Robinson proclaimed with self-assurance to his fellow graduates and the audience. During final exams, he chose to sit next to students he was sure had been up all night studying, while he was watching reruns of Friends, he joked, repeating again that he is "not a dumb jock."

Laura Amato is a prospective photojournalist. In her address, Amato spoke of her distaste with the recent cover of the Times Union features section, in which the women in the all-girl group, The Pussycat Dolls, were hailed as models for today’s woman. The group, Amato said, does not even write its own lyrics, and sings choruses such as, "Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me""

"There can’t be one person to embody all of us," Amato said. "We all represent ourselves."

"Unique group"

The graduating class donated a plasma television to the school for the area known as the commons and donated a megaphone in honor of its "loud, talkative nature" to upcoming generations of Blackbirds.

Allison Belgiovine, Sarah LaFave, Maria Qualtere, and Gail Axelrod, on behalf of their class, formally presented the class gifts at graduation.

At some point amid the words of accomplishment and gratitude, the laughter and the cheers, the clouds overtook the sun, the sky opened up, and the rain started to pour.

Board member Thomas McKenna grabbed an electric keyboard and hauled it to a drier spot further inside the tent. Band members huddled closer together as the rain created fast-moving streams across the tarmac.

Superintendent Linda Langevin encouraged the standing onlookers to move inside and avoid the drenching rain. She then commended the graduates, referring to them as a "wonderfully unique group."

The class of 2007, she said, has three key qualities – "courage, commitment, and class." You "stand up for what is right" and find "truth in difficult circumstances," Langevin addressed them. "I wish you much success and happiness in the future."

School-board President David Gibson told the students that he is currently working in his fourth career. "You will have to face change many more times than you wish," he said.

At work, Gibson and his colleagues put effort into ideas, knowing that they may fail, and, if they do, he said, "We come back and hope we get it right the second time."

Gibson told the graduates to "date lots of people." The students got wide-eyed, and their smiles grew.

He even joked that they could tell their parents that the "crazy guy" at graduation told them to.

"Try things that are out of your comfort zone," Gibson advised. "It’s OK to change your mind."

"You da bomb"

In her presentation of the guest speaker, graduate Sarah LaFave explained that David Teuten has been a substitute teacher at the high school for many years. He often told the students stories of growing up in Venezuela and he speaks Spanish fluently, she said.

"Every day, he makes the people around him feel better about themselves," LaFave said.

She presented Teuten with an award and they embraced warmly.

Teuten questioned how he was supposed to follow such a kind introduction.

He said that, while preparing his address, he had consulted a "being of much higher wisdom" – his wife.

She advised him to be himself, he said.

He then told the students, in hip fashion, "You da bomb."

He told the graduates to enjoy their graduation "soberly." The students seemed to find the thought amusing. "I meant that," he said with a smile.

The students fixed their gazes intently on Teuten as he spoke, their expressions showing their obvious respect for him.

"Don’t forget your failures," Teuten said. "They, too, should be instructive for you."

He went on to talk about attitude. "Life is 10 percent what happens to me, and 90 percent how I react to it," he explained.

"We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day," said Teuten.

Before concluding, Teuten recounted the well-known story "The Little Engine that Could," a story of which both he and his grandchildren are fond.

"I encourage you to always see the glass as half full," he said.

To wrap up his speech, Teuten, in Spanish, said: "Yo pase un tiempo muy agradable y encapato con ustedes y me allegro que han aprobado todos sus examenes.

"Now for the rest of you," Teuten said, before translating his send off to the graduates – "I had an agreeable and enchanting time with you, and I’m glad you passed your exams."

Valedictorian Wang advises pursuing what you love

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Steven Wang will spend his summer in Taiwan, teaching English before starting his freshman year at Dartmouth College in the fall.

Wang is Clayton A. Bouton High School’s class of 2007 valedictorian. He moved to the Voorheesville School District when he was in third grade. His time here, he said, was "good."

At the start of his valedictory address to his fellow graduates, their families and friends, Wang reminisced about the high-school graduation of his brother nine years ago. That graduation, he said, was at the Albany Academy. He remembered that Andy Rooney – the curmudgeonly CBS commentator of 60 Minutes – was the guest speaker. After the ceremony, Wang asked for Rooney’s autograph, he said. Rooney curtly replied that he didn’t sign autographs and walked away.

Wang pointed out that the atmosphere in Voorheesville is much warmer and friendlier.

He went on to thank his parents, friends, "and those who have fed me."

In his speech, Wang wanted to focus on "how we live moment to moment," he told The Enterprise prior to the June 22 ceremony. "Today is a good moment," he said. "We have a lot to look forward to."

Wang is looking forward to "the new experience" of college, he said. He is not yet sure what he will study. "I’ll determine that when I see all the options," he said.

Wang was on the tennis team at Voorheesville, and played viola in the school band, he said. He likes math and English, he added.

"I think there’s some fear with anything that’s unknown," Wang said. Voorheesville is confined, and leaving the comfort of home, he said, is going to be "strange."

His advice to younger students: "Find something that you love, even if it’s not school; you should try as hard as you can to pursue something that you love."

At Voorheesville Salutatorian Curreri says never be afraid to ask for help

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Richard Curreri says he is "silly a lot."

Curreri, Clayton A. Bouton High School’s class of 2007 salutatorian, quoted "the great Eric Cartman of South Park fame" at the opening of his speech at the school’s graduation ceremony. "I do what I want," said Curreri in a squeaky voice similar to the voice of the well-known Comedy Central character.

"We have to do what we want in life," Curreri said. "We all have the ability to choose our own paths" We need to keep an open mind" Our goals are susceptible to change."

To stress his point, Curreri spoke of former President Bill Clinton, who, at one time, wanted to be a goat farmer.

He later found a passion for politics, Curreri said. "And for women with large thighs," he joked, a comment that was met with much laughter from the audience.

Curreri is passionate about many things. Among them are music – he plays guitar and saxophone – and baseball – he is a lifelong Yankees fan, he said.

In his speech, Curreri spoke of legendary former Yankee, Yogi Bera, and included several yogiisms. "When you come to a fork in the road, take it," said Curreri, quoting Bera.

If we aren’t passionate about what we do in life, aren’t we taking life for granted, Curreri asked.

He will attend Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations in the fall, he said. "I’d like to maybe be in pep band, so I can get to games for free," he added with a smile.

Curreri said it is important to "never be afraid to ask for help." His advice to younger students, he said, is: " Find your passion, and stick with it."

Curreri has lived in Voorheesville his entire life, he said. "It’s going to be a weird transition going to a school that’s six times the size of the town," he said. "I haven’t had to make new friends since kindergarten."

Few words but many dreams build future for Musella

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Sammy Musella is a man of few words. Actions, though, speak louder than words – Musella’s attitude is positive, his smile is authentic, and his heart is filled with compassion.

Musella, a class of 2007 graduate of the Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville, received a $1,000 scholarship from the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association.

He will begin studying construction technology at Hudson Valley Community College in the fall.

His parents, Dan and Cathy Musella, could not be more proud of their son.

"He’s worked very hard throughout school," Mrs. Musella said of Sammy, her youngest child. School was a struggle for him, she said.

"He’s a real good kid. He cares about people. If he sees the neighbors out doing yard work, he’ll go over and help, without being asked," said Mr. Musella.

Linda McHenry, Sammy’s resource-room teacher, told him about the Career Exploration Internship Program (CEIP), Musella said.

Jennifer Wademan, a work-based learning coordinator and high-school business teacher, administers the course. Wademan said that Musella "wanted an internship in construction."

She contacted the Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association, which put her in touch with Bryland Homes, Incorporated, she said. "It’s been wonderful working with them," Wademan said of Bryland.

Wademan established the partnership with Bryland this year, in her first year at Voorheesville, and "look what happened," she said with a shy smile.

"I’m so happy," she said of Musella’s accomplishment. "It’s very rewarding."

On a sunny afternoon, Musella and his parents – beaming with pride– met with numerous teachers and administrators; Bryan Smith, owner of Bryland; Pam Krison, executive officer of Capital Region Builders and Remodelers Association; and Margie Miller, past president of the association; in the office of Superintendent Linda Langevin to receive the award.

Musella maintained a grin from ear to ear as his teachers, the director of athletics, and the associate principal congratulated him and wished him the best.

"I hope we have more students that have the enthusiasm that Sammy has," said high-school Principal Mark Diefendorf.

"Sammy, you’re an inspiration to lots of students," Krison added.

From building blocks to building homes

Musella has always been interested in construction, he said. As a child, he enjoyed playing with Legos and Lincoln Logs.

"It was an awesome experience with Bryland Homes," he said.

Smith’s Bryland team builds energy-efficient homes. "Every home is Energy Star," Smith told The Enterprise earlier.

When he first started, Musella did mostly small jobs like filling in nail holes and sanding, he said.

By January, he had finished his requirement of 54 hours with Bryland. "He still continues to go there," said Wademan.

He helped on a "bunch of construction sites," Musella said. "One house had just had the foundation poured," he remembered.

He really liked being able to see the building process, he said. He was surprised by how fast it goes, he said.

Musella said he was stunned when his mother called him and told him that he would be receiving a scholarship. "I was very surprised and shocked," he said, adding that, at the same time he was thrilled and excited.

The internship with Bryland, Musella said, convinced him that construction was what he wanted to do. "Just the whole experience made me certain," he said.

When Musella talked to his parents about his days working with Bryland, his mother said, "His eyes would light up."

It was really important for him to "be part of a crew," Mr. Musella added. "Bryan really took Sammy under his wing," he said, adding that Robert Smith, Bryan’s father and the vice president of Bryland also seemed to really hit it off with Sammy.

Man of many sports

Even though he’s the youngest, Musella said, "I don’t think I’m really spoiled."

His older sister, Kristen, and brother, Danny, also graduated from Voorheesville.

"We’ve been involved at the school for 18 years now," said Mrs. Musella. "I think it’s going to be a bigger change than I anticipated," she said of no longer having ties there.

Her son, however, plans on continuing his job of managing the boys’ basketball team. Recently, Coach Don Catellier asked Sammy who he should appoint to fill his position for next year, Mr. Musella said. Sammy told him that he would do it, his father laughed.

"His biggest love is sports," said Mr. Musella.

In addition to acting as manager of the basketball team, Musella also helped out with the baseball and football teams; ran track and cross country; was on the bowling team, and even wrestled for a year, he said.

In addition to all of his sports affiliations, Musella has been working at Nichols’ Market since he was 16.

He was awarded a $100 Nichols’ Shop ‘N’ Save Scholarship and a $250 James Ascone Memorial Athletic Award, his mother said proudly.

The athletic scholarship, she said, "was well-deserved." They wanted "to recognize someone who put their heart and soul into athletics at Voorheesville," she said. "Sammy’s been involved in so many sports."

Sammy said he is considering being a part of sports at Hudson Valley. He is looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends in college, he said.

He will be taking a math class, as well as blueprint reading, and principles and practices of light construction.

Before he hits the books in the fall, though, Musella and his parents, together with some of his friends and their families, will take a cruise to the eastern Caribbean.

Musella is "very excited" about the vacation, he said.

It serves a dual purpose, Mrs. Musella said – as a graduation present for Sammy, and a belated 25th wedding anniversary for her and her husband.

Musella said that his advice for younger classmen is to "try new things." His parents always encouraged him to be himself, he said.

Voorheesville has great resources for students who need extra help, Mr. Musella said, "Take advantage of it" Don’t get discouraged early, if things don’t move as quick as you’d like."

Advising other parents who have children who struggle in school, Mrs. Musella said, "Be there to support your child and the school, and work with them and the school in reaching goals."

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