By JAIME STUDD
For the Express
JOHNSTOWN — The gymnasium at Fulton Montgomery Community College was filled to capacity last month as more than 1,000 students, parents, faculty and guests gathered to celebrate the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES Career and Technical Center Student Recognition Night.
“These are exceptional students,” said HFM BOCES Superintendent Patrick Michel, explaining that each and every one had “chosen” to go above and beyond standard educational requirements in obtaining their career and technical center certificates.
“Never before in our country’s history has career and technical education been more important,” he added.
HFM BOCES Board of Education President Robert Townsend echoed Michel’s remarks, saying the students having obtained their certificate was a “great accomplishment,” and the certificate itself was a “passport to a very successful future.”
Townsend also imparted on the students some words of wisdom, urging them to celebrate their successes and learn from their mistakes, to never compromise their integrity, to know that the cornerstones of character are trust, honesty and respect, to be compassionate to others and value diversity and to always remember to pay it forward.
More than 265 students received their career and technical center certificates in 16 different categories, including auto body repair, automotive technology, careers in education, computer information technology, construction technology, cosmetology, criminal justice/security, culinary arts, digital media and communications, environmental conservation, equine science, foundations of food services, medical assisting, new visions health centers and vehicle repair and maintenance.
According to Jay DeTraglia, director of the Career and Technical Center, it was one of the largest classes in the program’s history.
The audience, too, reached record numbers.
“That was the largest audience we’ve ever had,” said DeTraglia.
The ceremony was also an opportunity to honor some of the center’s most outstanding students with its highest awards.
The HFM BOCES Teacher’ Association Award was given to Rachel Scharr, a culinary arts student from Northville, and Olajuwon Lewis, of Amsterdam, who studied digital multimedia.
The NBT Bank Award was presented to digital multimedia student Allyssa Kilmartin of Canajoharie and Mayfield’s Eric Fancher, who studied environmental conservation.
The HFM Superintendents’ Association Award went to Olivia Hinds, a medical assisting student from Wells and computer information technology student Gabriel Cirtwell of Canajoharie.
The HFM BOCES Professional Student Award was presented to Amsterdam’s Veronique Krohn, an equine science student and automotive technology student Cody Kietzmann, of Fonda-Fultonville.
The evening was capped by a very special moment when HFM BOCES Board of Education member Joseph Sullivan was presented with an honorary Career and Technical Center diploma.
Sullivan, who is stepping down this year, was praised for his 32 years of dedicated service to the students of HFM BOCES.
Townsend told the audience that he actually considered Sullivan’s honorary diploma to be a Ph.D.
“I always refer to Mr. Sullivan as Dr. Sullivan,” Townsend explained, “because of his expertise and knowledge in caring for the students.”