Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services Career and Technical Education Engineering Technology New visions health program students are shown Tuesday right before the ceremony began.
Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Environmental construction program students sported pink shirts Tuesday in memory of their former teacher, Bill Conte, who passed away last year.
JOHNSTOWN -- Superinten-dent Patrick Michel spoke proudly Tuesday about the hundreds of students being honored during the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educa-tional Services Career and Tech-nical Education Student Recog-nition Program.
Michel explained the night was particularly special to him, because among the students receiving a certificate was his daughter, Katie, who completed the digital multimedia program this year.
"She has an exceptional education here at H-F-M BOCES and it is something she will cherish and also benefit from for the rest of her life," Michel said. "Really when you think about it, every single one of you are exceptional. You are exceptional because you chose a harder path when you became students at H-F-M BOCES."
The ceremony took place in the Fulton-Montgomery Community College gymnasium.
Many of the students were dressed in their best attire -- with the exception of those in the environmental construction program.
In honor of former teacher Ben Conte, the program's students sported neon pink t-shirts, which said "Conservation for Conte."
Conte passed away one year ago this Sunday.
In memory of her husband, Debbie Conte attended the ceremony and presented the Ben Conte "Pay It Forward" Award.
An emotional Conte spoke before the students and their families. She said her husband was there for everyone in need, and believed kindness came full-circle.
She said the recipient of the award embodied all the characteristics of husband.
"A strong work ethic, caring and forever learning," she said.
Johnstown High School senior Emileigh George accepted the award with a smile and a hug from Conte.
"This year's recipient is well deserving," Conte said.
Environmental construction teacher Don Lucas said career and technical programs provide students with an excellent work ethic.
He said some of his students are going on to college and others have already acquired jobs. He said the environmental program is a great choice for students debating enrollment.
"They are going to have a lot of fun and they are learning," Lucas said.
New visions health program teacher Erika Bucenec said students who participate in the Career and Technical Center have a leg up on ones who choose a traditional school path.
That includes 18-year-old Nick Battisti, who received a certificate for completing the new visions program.
A Fonda-Fultonville senior, Battisti said he was accepted into Hartwick College where he will enroll in the nursing program.
He said before taking classes at BOCES, he wanted to become a pediatrician. After shadowing doctors and participating in clinics around various hospitals, Battisti decided on a different path.
"It has been a life-changing experience," he said. "I now want to go into anesthesia."
Engineering technology student Valerie Hoffman is graduating from Canajoharie High School and will attend Paul Smiths College to study natural resources and sustainability.
She said taking part in the school's engineering program has provided her with real-world experience.
And her classmates agree.
Amsterdam High School senior Jonathan Blanchard said the engineering program helped him obtain an internship at Automated Dynamics in Schenectady. Mayfield High School student Matty Krutz said he learned the importance of planning and was able to tackle a larger work load.
Krutz will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Blanchard will study mechanical engineering at Clarkson University this fall.
"I got a lot of direction with the program," Blanchard said.