Schalmont grads urged to give back

For school board president Michael Della Villa, this year's Schalmont High School graduation was a particularly emotional affair.

Della Villa's daughter, Cara, graduated with the Class of 2008 on Friday, June 27, at Proctors in Schenectady.

In his address to the 178 graduates, many of whom Della Villa has known since they were in elementary school, the board president and Schalmont alumnus urged the group to set high goals and to practice altruism.

You make a living by what you get, said Della Villa, "but you make a life by what you give."

Della Villa also asked students to "learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future."

Cara Della Villa is busy planning for her own future. She hopes to become a special education teacher. She'll take her first step toward that goal when she joins her older sister, Lauren, at Cazenovia College in Syracuse in the fall.

Cara Della Villa and her classmates also will leave their mark at Schalmont. The Class of 2008 presented school officials with a gift " a commemorative garden located outside of the high school gym lobby. The garden includes a wooden bench, evergreen trees and a stone path.

Schalmont Superintendent Valerie Kelsey picked up on the day's theme of altruism in her own remarks.

"Thinking about others certainly makes you a happier, more fulfilled person," said Kelsey. "It can be as simple as spending a night a week with a grandparent or as vital as volunteering for a relief effort."

Many Schalmont graduates are already intimately familiar with the importance of volunteerism.

Schalmont Salutatorian Antonia Valentine has mentored elementary students and participated in the Key Club's "Adopt a Grandparent" program. As a volunteer usher at Proctors, she's helped her community while indulging in her love of musicals and Broadway shows.

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