WARWICK-A thread of sober realization ran through last Saturday night's commencement exercises at Warwick Valley High School. Senior Dean Charles Odom noted that the graduating class managed a trip to Washington, D. C. during the school year, despite homeland security concerns. And he spoke about how much different the world is for those entering the world now, as opposed to what it was for most of us. A few brief moments of abandon snuck into the ceremony with a smuggled beach ball being bounced around by graduates. Yet it only served as some form of irony in relation to the serious nature of subsequent comments, first by senior speaker Kristen Careccia. Careccia, the recipient of a Warwick Valley Teachers Association Scholarship, spoke about the memory of being a sophomore on September 11, 2001. She was struck by the hundreds who ran into the two mammoth infernos, in a desperate effort to help other people. "That day affected the lives of many Warwick students and residents. We needed to learn to appreciate those who suffered from that tragedy and be thankful for what we have." Then the second "Senior Speaker" Raymond Robles said, "Tonight we sit on top of the world. We must take the time right now to appreciate how lucky we are. As I speak there are men and women not much older than you and I fighting and dying. There are people living a life of fear. And there are children who will never experience what it is to be loved." And he added, "Do not take for granted what you have now and take what you learn from this night forward and spread it throughout the world." Valedictorian Radhika Shah said the day was for those who've nurtured those in the caps and gowns. "This day is not for us, the graduating seniors. Today is for the people out there in the bleachers. Because their efforts have helped us reach the platform." She spoke of the culmination of all that goes into being a parent, such as, "years of driving us to soccer practice, packing our school lunches and assuring us that our lousy elementary school performances were indeed brilliant. Our happiness is their happiness." Shah also spoke of teachers, friends and administrators. "Our teachers have taught us to never be satisfied with the good enough, but to always strive for the extraordinary. Our administration has taught us to live in the world, how to live with its rules and how to change them. Our friends have taught us to love and be kind to strangers. And our families have shaped us into the adults that we are today and have instilled in us the morals and values that will allow us to move School Board President Kurt Emmerich opted for a Top Ten list, of the most important words of advice for grads: #10: Seek out community. #9: Seek integrity. #8: Give it your all (don't sleep walk through life, it's way too short for that). #7: Keep learning. #6: Seek expression. #5: Seek love. #4: Seek advice. #3: Seek improvement. #2: Remember your roots. #1: Call home. And Superintendent of Schools Joseph Natale read from the Dr. Seuss book "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" In addition to her being named valedictorian because of having the highest four year academic average, Radhika Shah was selected as a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship and received the Veterans of Foreign Wars Scholarship and the Warwick Valley High School Music Department Scholarship. And some of her other awards included the John Philip Sousa Band Award, the All State Orchestra Award, the Warwick Lions Physics Prize, the English IV Prize, Citizenship Award, George M. Felder, Sr. Annual Award for Excellence in Math, US Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Award and the National School Orchestra Award. Salutatorian Emily Beyer had the second highest four year academic average and was the recipient of the Warwick Valley Teacher's Association Roy W. Epting Scholarship and the Margaret B. Tilt Scholarship. She also received the All State Chorus Award, Excellence in English Award, Senior Language Awards and the Warwick Lions Four-Year History Award. Graduates in the National Honor Society included Kara Ackerman (who also received a Warwick Valley Teacher's Association Scholarship), Alicia Alvelo, Natasha Amendolara, Jamie Barbuto, Emily Beyer, Jacquelyn Canevari, Kristen Careccia, Vanessa Falco, Adam Freilich, Megan Guy, Tyler Jahn, William Kelly, Stephanie LaPerle, Joshua Laster, Lindsay Levine, Samantha Lupinetti, Eliza Mack, David Mante, Jason Mazzella, Rebecca Prial, Katherine Reighard, Amanda Sadler, Luke Sattler, Radhika Shah, Audra Silfee, Lisa Van Tieghem, Katherine Wood and Elaine Zaveckas. The Warwick Valley High School Class of 2004 includes 316 graduates and three foreign exchange students. forward confidently."