C-R graduates 47 seniors, urged to ‘explore everything’ (2024)

CUBA — After the Class of 2024 took the stage, Cuba-Rushford’s graduation band played “Pure Imagination,” conjuring memories of Willie Wonka.

Imagination may indeed lead the way for whatever lies ahead for 47 seniors who left the stage as high school graduates, diplomas in hand and eager to face the future.

These C-R grads heard from their principals, superintendent and school board president along with several student speakers. They also wore black ribbons pinned to their gowns in remembrance of classmate Julia Horton, who passed away in a car accident their junior year. In a similar show of mourning and remembrance, they gathered in a circle and let off black balloons after the ceremony on the school’s front lawn, symbolically honoring those who they wish could have attended but are no longer with us.

After thanking teachers and school staff — “for your dedication to igniting the spark within each of us” — and loved ones (“For always being there through thick and thin whether we like your advice or not, especially through our middle school years of eyeball rolling”) and fellow classmates, valedictorian Julie Bichler explored some “abstract thought.”

The auditorium, including the on-stage chairs, had approximately 828 seats, Bichler said.

“I would like to ask you to visualize a chair,” she said. “It may be the one directly next to you or one in a distant corner. Imagine this chair as the possibility that your life goes perfectly as you planned with no hiccups along the way.

“Now ... look to another. This chair represents the opposite— an unexpected chance your life could take.”

She widened the metaphor to reference football stadiums, such as the Bills’, with more than 71,000 seats, or even larger ones: even more possibilities.

But, Bichler said, “It is impossible to assign a numerical value to the number of paths your lives could take. These probabilities are limitless and I ask you to be the same … explore everything the world has to offer and never settle for a simple possibility when you can imagine so much more.”

Salutatorian Jacie Carney reflected on how far these students have come, with no way of knowing 12 years ago how their paths would have gone from kindergarten.

“Now, we are all going our own separate ways to make a life of our own,” Carney said. “But the one thing we will always have in common is Cuba-Rushford. The memories, good and bad, will always be with us.”

Carney urged her classmates to “experience absolutely everything” as they go off in different directions.

“It’s okay to not have life figured out yet, we have the rest of our lives ahead of us, but always set yourself up for the future,” she said. “This is your first time living, you will mess up 100 times and that is okay as long as you learned something from it. With that being said though, be good humans, be kind, always learn something, have fun, and live out of your comfort zone.”

Board president Casey Linderman gave special recognition to ex-officio student board

member Chloe Smith for her “bravery and contributions,” and passed along advice from his fellow members.

District principal Chris Fee closed his remarks with some old advice from his father.

“Please take the lessons you have learned and go forward to start your journey but remember what my dad used to say to me, ‘There are three types of people in this world: Those that watch what happens, those that wonder what happens, and those that make things happen,’” he said. “Please go forth Cuba Rushford Class of 2024 and make things happen.”


Kane Adams, Jacob Baker, Alexander Baron, Kaden Bell, Hailey Bello, Julie Bichler, Hannah Boutwell, Luke Brooks, Jacie Carney, Tristan Clayson, Ethan Cole, Ethan Coleman, Garrett Cooper, Nathan Deming, Kendra Dewe, Elizabeth Drum, Tyler Findlay, Hailee Gadley, Camerin Getz, Fred Greek, Joshua Grover, Logan Hellier, Maximus Hinckley, Sydney Howard, Aryana Hollendonner, Anjalina Huegel, Wade Hutchison, Alexander Johnson, Harlie Jones, Austin Layman, Tanner Lewis, Gianna Loiacono, Nora Long, Shaelyn Maples, Madison Morehouse, Lauren O'Keefe, McKennah Patten, Jessica Ringelberg, Hailey Robbins, Sebastian Saulter, Chloe Smith, Arthur Spring, Braeden Wight, Riley Wilson, Bayle Witter, Kyle Witter and Shayla Zaprowski.

Awards & Scholarships

  • Allegany County National Honor Society Scholarship — Julie Bichler, Libby Drum, Harlie Jones
  • Allegany County Pomona Grange #45 Perseverance Award — Hailey Bello
  • American Legion Citizenship Award — Julie Bichler
  • American Legion Citizenship Award, Honorable Mention — Chloe Smith
  • Andrew Beck Memorial Scholarship — Tristan Clayson
  • Brenda Veley Memorial Scholarship — Gianna Loiacono
  • Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation- Kaleigh Wilday Memorial Scholar Athlete — Elizabeth Drum
  • Charles & Cecil Arzberger Memorial Award — Chloe Smith
  • Chet Swier Memorial Visual Arts Award — Bayle Witter
  • CRCS Student Council Leadership Award — Julie Bichler
  • CRTA Education Award — Gianna Loiacono
  • Cuba American Legion Auxiliary English 12 Award — Julie Bichler
  • Cuba Chamber of Commerce Scholarship — Chloe Smith, Sebastian Saulter
  • Cuba Council of Churches Scholarship — Gianna Loiacono
  • Cuba Grange #799 Agriculture Awards — Gianna Loiacono, Madison Morehouse, Ethan Cole
  • Cuba Historical Society Florence Wills Memorial History Award — Joshua Grover, Nathan Deming
  • Cuba Lions Club Award, Nursing — Jacie Carney
  • Cuba Rod and Gun Club Trap Team Scholarship — Joshua Grover
  • Cuba-Rushford PTO Madelene A. Brown Math Award — Lauren O’Keefe
  • Cuba-Friendship Masonic Lodge #306 Math 12 Awards — Logan Hellier, Joshua Grover, Harlie Jones
  • Dale McGinnis Scholarship — Braeden Wight, Shaelyn Maples
  • Devere Sweet Memorial Award — Kaden Bell
  • Diane Winchell Borden Memorial Award — Lauren O’Keefe
  • Jeffrey L. Linza Memorial Scholarship — Sebastian Saulter
  • Jessica-Karst Cauley Memorial Award — McKennah Patten
  • L. Ted Utter Family Scholarship — Jacie Carney, Joshua Grover, Kaden Bell, Tristan Clayson, Gianna Loiacono, Madison Morehouse, Chloe Smith, Sebastian Saulter, Julie Bichler
  • Lawrence Dye, Inc. Scholarship — Kaden Bell, Tristan Clayson
  • Lee Clark Memorial — Julie Bichler
  • Linnae M. Granger-Nicholas Memorial Award — Tristan Clayson, Madison Morehouse
  • PTO Scholarship — Gianna Loiacono
  • Ralph Harbeck Memorial Scholarship — Elizabeth Drum
  • Renee Wolbert Memorial Scholarship — Gianna Loiacono
  • Robert Hull Memorial Music Award — Hailey Bello
  • Sons of the AMVETS Award — Kane Adams
  • Steven Holmes & Jeanette Holmes Redeye Memorial Award — Harlie Jones
  • Town of Cuba Auxiliary to Post 2721 VFW History 12 Awards — Julie Bichler, Madison Morehouse
C-R graduates 47 seniors, urged to ‘explore everything’ (2024)
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