MARCELLUS | For 161 students in the Marcellus Senior High School Class of 2015, a crowning moment will be embedded in each of their minds.

The graduates had their praises spoken and sung to them during their commencement Sunday, but many of the passages contained words of encouragement meant to give them a boost for life beyond high school.

Class President Nellie Ramsden was the first student to speak at the 122nd graduation, and she told her classmates that words can affect them.

Remsden said there are words that can be eliminated from one's language due to the negativity that surrounds them — “can’t” and “hate” and “should.”

“How can we live our life … if we use language that leaves us weaker?” she said, proceeding with an anecdote for each word.

She quoted her father, who told her “Don’t you ever say you can’t do anything.” Her brother always reminded her to take the high road, she said: “When you have hate in your heart, it can spread like a virus.”

And instead of one saying that he should have done something, Remsden said his initial intentions should contain the phrase “I will” instead.

“Words … can change the paths of our lives,” she said. “The words we’ve used so far have helped shape the people we are today.”

Three of these paths were highlighted after the class president’s speech. High School Principal John Durkee announced that Karen Cramer will join the U.S. Marine Corps and Aaron Cusick will enter Army ROTC, while Stephen Larison heads to the U.S. Naval Academy.

As one of 53 honor graduates and with the third-highest average in the class, Larison was chosen to deliver the honors address.

The future naval officer expressed his love for his family, friends, teachers and community as he addressed the audience as his father had done from the same stage 40 years before.

“I love Marcellus,” Larison said. “Love, when it takes a hold of you, it won’t let go.”

He reminded his classmates that they were all there because of the love of someone else. There are memories that they all have, and there is one particular memory that they will forever remember. These memories and the love that surrounds them are comforting.

“Just do it,” he said, referencing a recent Shia LaBeouf video that went viral. “Seize the emotion and passion inside of you.”

The love that people feel, he explained, not only has the ability to change their own lives but the lives of others as well. It is important when conquering any obstacle. Obstacles, after all, are always present and popping up. They should be anticipated.

Physics teacher and soccer coach Mark Sunheimer reminded the students that life, no matter what regard, should be taken on and lived with energy. Every part of life should be scrutinized and appreciated because there is precision with every single aspect.

He related to physicist Richard Feynman in his address, reading his quote about dissecting a flower. Once one takes apart a flower, Feynman said, it is essentially dull. But, when one dissects it and examines all of the inner workings, there is a world of beauty.

“Everything is beautiful,” Sunheimer said. “It all depends on the magnification you’re using.”

He too referenced love. He reminisced about the concept of having memories. He said these memories make people who they are. Memories are roots, and it’s important not to forget one's roots.

For Superintendent Dr. Craig Tice, his roots at the district go back 11 years, with nine as the top administrator. Tice said he cannot forget all the great memories that he made in the district. He made one more by handing his daughter her diploma during the presentation of diplomas.

“I feel compelled to apologize to you,” Tice said, acknowledging "using up" all of the good quotes in past graduation addresses and wanting to give the students an original speech without repeating himself.

He spoke about finding a thank-you card in the anniversary section while searching for the perfect card to give to his parents. He said he was going to return it to the correct section when he read the message inside and saw it to be more appropriate than he initially thought.

As he has been a part of the district for 11 years, he noted the students that graduated were in second grade when he first started. He saw the students progress through their years of studying under the Marcellus school building roofs.

In that time, he attended games, plays and concerts, among other events. But, after giving his final address to the Mustang graduating class, Tice will move on to become the superintendent of the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District.

“I’m graduating as well,” he said, as he ended his speech and thanked the students.

Making a reference to his use of words that begin with “co-“ in the past and noting the prefix designates a group of people coming together to accomplish a task, he said this year’s word is “commencement.”

Tice then wished the students luck and he with: “Go Mustangs.”

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Skaneateles Journal reporter Christopher Malone can be reached at or 282-2230. Follow him on Twitter @Skan_Malone.