Commencement exercises were Sunday afternoon at the highschool gym

By William K. Alcorn


The Boardman High School Class of 2017, the school’s 100th graduating class, was cautioned not to burn their bridges by 1984 grad Cynthia M. Fernback, who vowed after her commencement she was never coming back “as long as I live.”

But, Fernback did return, first as an English teacher who went on to become the high-school principal.

Her message to the 300 graduates at Sunday afternoon’s commencement at the Boardman High gymnasium: “Make plans, but be open to chance ... and never be afraid to come home.”

“Remember to finish on good terms. Maybe say you’re sorry to someone or thank your parents. Never, ever burn your bridges,” Fernback said.

Student speakers were Cade Santha, president of the student council, and Richard Sammartino, class president. Fellow officers are Chase Horchen, vice president; Mackenzie Kondas, secretary; and Maria Serra, treasurer.

“Together we have created amazing friends who have shaped our character as Boardman High prepared us for the future. It is our duty to make the world a better place,” said Santha.

“I’m proud to be a Spartan,” he said. His wish for his classmates: “I hope you cherish the memories.”

“Hello my fellow Spartans. We’ve done it. We’ve reached a major milestone of our lives,” Sammartino said.

But, he said: “We have lived only a small portion of our lives. There is much more to come.”

Sammartino urged his fellow graduates to “seize the day and do not be afraid to fail or to take the path that makes you happy.”

“The real fear of aging is missed opportunities. Choose to see the possibilities. Take every door that’s open. Find a fire that lights your heart with enthusiasm,” he said with fervor.

Several graduates who talked about their futures seemed to have been following Sammartino’s advice before they heard it.

Lindsay O’Nesti, who said Boardman High “gave us a lot of opportunities for success,” plans to work this summer and hang out with friends before getting down to the business this fall studying marketing and international business at Ohio University.

“Boardman High gave me a lot of good memories and friends. I feel prepared for college,” said Matthew Hillard, who is joining Lindsay at Ohio University to study finance and business, the same major Caden Kasler plans to pursue at Kent State University’s main campus.

“I will miss the people at Boardman High, but I am ready to move on,” Kasler said.

Kishan Pandya said he will begin an accelerated program at Northeast Ohio Medical University on June 12, which will enable him to finish medical school in six years when he is 23. His goal is to become an eye surgeon.

Richard Smrek, chairman of the school’s guidance department, described the Class of 2017 as “very friendly and tolerant and outgoing, and extremely talented in academics, sports and the arts.”

“It is no doubt the Class of 2017 is special because it is the 100th graduating class at Boardman High School,” said schools Superintendent Timothy L. Saxton.

The superintendent said the class has benefited from the excellence offered at Boardman High and praised its contributions to the school’s traditions.

But he urged graduates, as they move out into the broader world, not to put all the focus on themselves but be guardians, as were the Spartans, of the people around them.

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