Graduates Begin Fresh New Phase in Life:
Matthews, Sahrle address fellow Perry 2021 graduates as they embark on 'the road ahead'
PERRY — As he stood before his and his classmates’ families, with the Class of 2021, Perry High School valedictorian Porter Matthews joked that he wished he had paid more attention during public speaking class.
As he went on speaking, one of his main messages to the class at Friday’s graduation was the importance of having someone to tell you he or she believes in you, assures you you are good enough and convinces you you deserve more. While searching for ideas for his speech, he said, he eventually came across an old text message from his mother: “Porter, I believe in you, please believe in yourself.”
“It was a short message, but important, nonetheless. I remember the day she sent this to me,” Matthews said. “I was nervous for a test, probably freaking out because I had convinced myself it was going to be unbearably terrible. I think we all struggle with confidence, but deep down, we know we are capable of achieving incredible things. By changing your perspective and attitude, you can change the way you handle challenges. We can’t control the obstacles placed before us, but we can control the way we face them.
“My mother taught me a lot of great things, not the least of which was the importance of engaging in activities even when you’re not sure you can do them,” he said. “Take a chance, make a memory, follow your dream, because even if you end up failing, what better way to live your life than in pursuit of the things that make you happy?”
Salutatorian Winston Sahrle told his classmates that school — high school especially — is a time for them to figure out who they are and to find out what they are passionate about, find out what they want to avoid and to pursue.
“While some on this stage have confidently achieved these expectations, many, myself included, aren’t quite sure yet,” he said. “A lot of us don’t know what we want our futures to look like. We’ve all heard it a thousand times: ‘You’re still young, you have time.’ So, why doesn’t it feel like it? Why the sudden rush to pick a career path and plan the next 60 years of our lives with hardly 18 under our belts?
“So, when you start your next adventure, you think you’re headed in a certain direction, a set goal, but then, as you move to that point, you change and you come to realize that you’ve actually miscalculated and the goal was in another spot,” Sahrle said. “So, as you gain experience, the path of your adventure is revealed to you in a sharper image.”
Salutatorian Winston Sahrle is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald (Valerie) Sahrle of Perry. Mr. Sahrle is a Representative on the Perry Town Board. Mrs. Sahrle is known at the Lake as having served in the art community and at Hoag Art Gallery prior to the pandemic. "We hope Val decides to return to the Art Program at Silver Lake Institute soon because we miss her here, and also miss her in-person attendance at the Perry United Methodist Church," said retired pastor and retired SLI Chaplain, the Rev. Greg Franklin. Former SLI Artists Coordinator, Frederick Schuknecht, agreed.
“I ship off for boot camp July 6,” she said. “Boot camp is about two months. It can be longer, though. It just depends on the training schedule.,” she said.
What was this year like for the two of them?
“It went by pretty quick, actually. I wish we got to do a lot more stuff, like Homecoming,” Alderman said. The class didn’t have a Homecoming the last two years, she added. The two of them played volleyball and Parker was also in track and field.
Of the year that just ended, Parker said, “It was pretty good as far as COVID goes, Our class advisors actually did a really good job of making sure we got out and did stuff for senior trips and things like that. We did a lot of activities.”
Dylan Hopkins said this year turned out a lot better than last year.
“We definitely got to do a lot more. We had a lot of good opportunities,” he said. “It was really nice to be able to come back to school after quarantine and finish our BOCES and get our degree. I really do think we’re going to move forward, because today is really the first day of the rest of our lives.”
Hopkins says he plans to go to trade school to learn underwater welding and then may join the military. He said he doesn’t know where he’ll attend trade school, but will probably go in the fall once he turns 18. He said, “I’ll probably get a landscaping job for now."