SMETHPORT — Smethport Area School District Superintendent David London spoke about leadership Friday evening when he delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2021 in the first outdoor graduation program in recent memory.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things,” said London, quoting President Ronald Reagan. “He is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things.”

Urging the class members to be leaders, London said leadership comes in many forms. Some leaders lead large groups, some lead small ones. “In the smallest sense, you can just lead yourself,” said London.

In addition to needing vision to set goals they want to accomplish, directions they want to take and expectations for their organization and themselves, London said, leaders must be well educated and experts in their fields. “I would advise you to lead yourself to as much education and training that you can possibly handle. No one can take your education from you.”

Leaders need drive and follow through to push others toward the goal and great leaders make the drive and follow through empowering the people they lead.

In conclusion, London said, “To close this out, our ship set sail last August on another school year. Tonight, we return to our port, Smethport, closing out another school year. One unlike any other. We have done well, better than many other schools.

“Everyone worked very hard to keep our schools open and minimize our situations. Thank you for your support. We could not have done this without you, the students and the community.”

In her introduction of London, class Vice-President Chloe Costa noted some of his accomplishments during his five years as the district’s chief school administrator.

“Under his leadership, Smethport has implemented many changes,” Chloe stated. “His 2020 vision for our students included both support for our children and development for our students. Technology upgrades, facility upgrades, the addition of a social worker and career counselor, improved financial status, alignment of curriculum to state standards, positive behavior management and support and leading us through the pandemic are among his accomplishments.”

In his welcoming remarks, Brice Benson, who was principal for most of the past school year, said, “Our class of 2021 has a well-deserved reputation for a strong academic class that has shown its grit and mettle through extra-curricular achievements whether through competitive clubs, such as DECA and mock trial and in numerous athletic pursuits on the mat or court or, of course, on this very football field,” he said, pointing to the field behind him. “They have done all of this throughout what has been anything but normal circumstances.”

Concluding, Benson said, “To the graduating class, congratulations to all of you. You have made Smethport proud. You have handled unexpected changes, embraced challenges, and we wish the absolute best as you enter the next chapter of your lives.”

Cadence Gamet, class secretary, introduced Chase Burdick, salutatorian, who spoke briefly about things he would and would not change if he could go back. Saying that time is fleeting to be with friends and family before leaving for college, one thing he would change is reducing the pressure he put on himself to perform to a high degree and “just sit back and enjoy the experience.”

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One thing he would not change is keeping busy, saying he was more productive when he was busy. “A busy life leads to a successful one in my experience so far,” he said.

Burdick also spoke about volunteering in community service. “Community service has taught me some great lessons. Sometimes we get caught up in wanting something in return for everything we do. Volunteering is not about what you get in return for your work, it’s the help you provided someone.”

Class Treasurer Haley Snyder introduced valedictorian Jordan Pavlock.

Reflecting on the challenges he and his 46 classmates faced this year due to the pandemic, Jordan said, “We survived. Perseverance is our Hubber spirit.”

Jordan encouraged his classmates to use what they learned at Smethport to achieve their goals.

Kyler Alexis, Cadence Gamet and Parker Jack presented a vocal selection: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.

Douglas Dickerson, the newly-appointed secondary principal who assumed his duties this spring, presented the class.

As class co-presidents Terence Todd and Chase Burdick announced the class roll, Dan Wertz, school board president, presented the diplomas as Brice Benson announced the honor graduates and their awards and scholarships.

The class officers led the turning of tassels.

Members of the class are Kyler Alexis, Zackary Barber, Sarah Blauser, Chase Burdick, Ryli Burritt, Logan Christie, Ryan Clark, Austin Coleman, Chloe Costa, Marlee Cunningham, Daryn Dalton, Kassidy Didomizio, Geraldine Farren-Akins, Lucas Fowler, Cadence Gamet, Caydence Gilbert, Tyler Howes, Parker Jack, Aydia Johnson, Braedon Johnson, Oliver Johnson, Lonnie Lachine Jr. and Kaelin Love.

Also, Rachel Main, Richard McDowell, Tyler McDowell, Matthew Nolte, Jordan Pavlock, Justice Peterson, Kameron Rounsville, Kaleigh Sanderson, Layne Shall, Logan Shelley, Kurstin Smith, Haley Snyder, Adenn Stevens, Aaron Stuck, Brian Tanner Jr., Michael Tanner, Summer Tanner, Cassandra Tingley, Terence Todd, Chase Trask, Clay Tronetti, Salena Williams, Sarah Young and Trevor Zuver.

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