Accolades for Groton grads, Vietnam vets


The strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” rang out from the piano as Groton music teacher Barbara Saroka skillfully played in the Groton High School gymnasium for the class of 2019 commencement, Saturday, June 29.

There were 53 students who marched in and then out again, taking their diplomas and fond memories with them, as well as some bittersweet emotions that arose as many contemplated on the proverbial chapter of their lives they were about to close.

The ceremony began with class president, Maggie Ossit, leading all in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by her address to the class. Ossit’s words were quite poignant and set the tone for the inspiring addresses given by valedictorian, Zoe Barclay, and salutatorian, Diaz Niño. Encouragement and exhortation were the theme of speeches given to the graduates by Superintendent Margo Martin and Billie Downs, high school principal.

The high school chorus presented “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan, led by choral director, Laura White, and it was noted that seven of the chorus members were about to be graduates and, thus, singing for their final time with the group.

Once diplomas were conferred by Martin, class vice president, Robert Griffin, led the class in the turning of the tassels, and they all recessed to the high school lawn for the traditional “tossing of the caps.”

At a special awards ceremony earlier that week, awards and scholarships provided via various sources, totaling over $50,000, were given to select students:

Niño, Griffin, Barclay, Ossit, Danielle Anderson, Leah Bernhardt, Robert Brehm, Jasmine Brown, Taylor Buckley, Joel Carl, Brianna Clark, Nick Côté, Adam Dickenson, Shentel Evener, Mitchell Felko, Darryl Fleming, Adriana Garcia, Colin Harrington, Alison Haskell, Christopher Hickox, Jordan Houston, Jaden Howell, Krista Kelly-Jones, Peyton Klein, Logan Klumpp, David Kuss, Reese Lockwood, Kyle McDougal, Sebastian Mikula, Alexander Miller, Jack Miller, MacKenzie Moore, Mercedes Muzzy, Samuel Norman, Travis Oudekerk, Christian Overbaugh-Simoens, Sarah Potter, Zoe Rice, Garrett Rolewicz, Sadie Royce, Cameron Searls, Alexis Shufelt, Robert Shurtleff, Katelynn Sill, Anthony Sirvent, Christie Smith, Madeline Stamm, Taylor Thompson, Travis Totman, Nathanial Turner and Jada Williams.

Congratulations to these amazing young men and women, and many thanks to the dedicated faculty and staff for all they did to help get these students to this juncture in their lives!

Bikers ride the Highway of Valor

As the beautiful American flags fly high over Main Street in Groton, the 11th annual “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor Tribute Ride” will take place Saturday, July 13 along NY State Route 38. The purpose of the ride is to draw attention to the highway that was named to honor Vietnam veterans. Motorcycles, cars, trucks, planes and helicopters are all welcome to participate. There is no cost to ride in the entourage, but donations are welcomed, which all go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor Fund.

Route 38 was given the distinct designation of the “Highway of Valor” in 2009 by the government of New York state, and the number of participants in this tribute ride has continually grown through the years since. Everyone who participates helps to raise community awareness for both our fallen and surviving veterans – those who have willingly served our country in the past and the present.

The 100-mile police-escorted ride kicks off at 11 a.m. from the Owego Free Academy on Sheldon Guile Boulevard, Owego. Registration is held there between 8 and 9:30 a.m. the day of the ride. The ride will end at the American Legion in Hannibal, New York, where there will be food and entertainment. For more information, call Harvey Baker (607) 898-3507 or Dan Baker (607) 229-8153.

The Groton American Legion, Post 800, is the first stop for gas and food, at approximately noon, and tribute will be paid at the Graves Memorial site to U.S. Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient, 2nd Lt. Terrence Graves, who lived in Groton and died serving his country in Vietnam in February 1968, and a stop in Throop to honor U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient, SP4 Robert F. Stryker, who both entered his service in 1963 and was buried there in Throop in 1967, though he was born in Auburn, New York. The Army Stryker vehicle was named in his honor.

I can personally attest to a sense of respect and awe within and surrounding me each time I stand among the crowd watching those hundreds of cyclists riding together through our village, giving their time on a hot July day to give honor to those who gave of their time and gave themselves to give us all the right and freedom to be there.

If you have the day and time available, you will not be disappointed. Even if you don’t ride, it’s a wonderful sight to behold when those bikers come through, so stop down and give them a salute.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.

In Brief

Mystery in McLean

McLean’s popular “Tuesday Night History/Mystery Presentations” began this week for the 2019 season, sponsored by the McLean Community Council. All are welcome to come to share recollections, ask questions and show off any artifacts, pictures or memorabilia they may have pertaining to the topic of the evening.

All programs begin at 7 p.m. every Tuesday July 9 through August 6 at the McLean Fire Hall. They are free of charge and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

The topic July 16 is “History and Trends in the Funeral Business,” presented by Zirbel Funeral Home of Groton. July 23 will feature “History of the Cayuga Indian Nation in our Area,” by the current Cayuga Nation chief, and on July 30, “The History of Milk Transportation” will be presented by ALNYE since 1957. The program for August 6 will be “Growing Up and Life in the 50s.”

Verne Morton Photography contest

The 11th annual Verne Morton Memorial Photography Show and Contest will take place Friday, Aug. 24, 6 to 8 p.m., for the opening gala and Saturday, Aug. 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Groton Town Hall, 101 Conger Blvd. during Groton Olde Home Days. Bring photographs and register at the Town Clerk’s Office, which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Photographers of all ages are invited to submit up to two matted original entries, minimum size, 8x10, excluding mat. Please no glass or frames. All photos must be your own originals and be taken in the town or village of Groton. For more information and a complete list of rules, call (607) 898-5035, email or visit

The show is produced by April Scheffler, town clerk, and Robin Cargian, deputy town clerk, sponsored by the Town of Groton and made possible in part by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program.

Clothing Closet needs pants!

The Clothing Closet, 160 Main St. (in the Open Door), has a selection of gently used clothing, shoes and accessories for the entire family, and all for free! Right now, the Closet is experiencing a shortage of adult men’s pants and would welcome additional donations.

The CC is regularly open from 10 a.m. to noon every second and fourth Saturday of the month and during those same hours on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month.

Donations of clean and presentable clothing are accepted for all ages, infants through adults, primarily during the hours the Closet is open, but messages may be left at (607) 898-5263, ext. 615, to make possible other arrangements for drop-off or for any other messages.


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