A view of a small town graduation

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:14

    FLORIDA-There's something about small-town graduations. They bring the whole community together even more where everybody knows everybody. The Village of Florida and S. S. Seward Institute fit that scenario. There were 58 members of the Class of 2004 receiving diplomas. The most prolonged applause was for Liz Sanza. Liz and her motorized wheelchair have long been a fixture at Golden Hill and Seward. Talk about Spartan Spirit. Special ramps led to the stage which was appropriately decorated with flowers and greenery compliments of Jansen's nursery. Tom Andryshak and his crew did a first-rate job with the entire setting. It was a very dignified affair. Credit for that to interim superintendent Edward V. Rhine. No balloons, no beach balls. Lots of happy smiles. Former superintendent Maureen Flaherty returned to renew acquaintances with many students, faculty members and friends. Several graduating seniors were third generation graduates of Seward. Matt Stopa, John C. Harter, III, and Jonathan Harter, Jill Gerczak. Salutatorian Matt Kelemen paid tribute to the late Ralph Pomponio, a music teacher at Seward. Pomponio also started the school's first cross country team. Kelemen was his best runner. Elmeda Shuback, former language teacher at Seward presented several awards. Brought a few smiles when she revealed that she actually taught some grandparents of the members of the Class of 2004. Speaking of awards. For many years William H. Seward was the president of his father's Institute. Even when he was Secretary of State during the Civil War he took time to send congratulatory books and notes to students at Seward. Present-day book awards. Florida Historical Society president Gary Randall not only presented the first local history awards to Matt Kelemen and Rogia Marie Rosemberg, but he also gave them signed copies of the society's award-winning book on the early history of Florida. Baccalaureate Services were held at St. Joseph's Church the Thursday evening before graduation. It was well-attended with representatives also from the First Presbyterian Church and Temple Beth Shalom. The choir was directed by organist Pat Lempka who just celebrated her 50th year graduation from Seward.