TIOGA CENTER, N.Y. - A school year that began tragically ended in triumph at Tioga Central High School Saturday.

The blue and gold graduated 83 seniors during their 58th commencement ceremony, an event that must have looked far away last September during the devastating flood.

However, if there was one good positive that came out of that horrendous disaster, it was that this group showed what they could do.

"Out of that adversity the true character of this class emerged," High School Principal Margo Martin said in her opening remarks.

Superintendent Scot Taylor said that this class' best attributes were "leadership and hope" in his remarks.

The dreariness of those several weeks was long gone by Saturday, though, as Tioga valedictorian Ben Hoose described to his classmates that "success is happiness" in his speech.

After all the diplomas were handed out the Senior of the Year award went to Salutatorian Madeline Kuhlman.

"It's always just a great achievement to watch these kids that have gone through school, the achievements that they've accomplished and getting ready to go off into their next step of their lives," Taylor said. "It's very rewarding obviously for them but for us from the school stand point."

This class will always hold a special place in Taylor's heart, not because of the flood last fall but how the kids stepped up and helped out with the relief effort.

"What it did is that it brought a lot of things together," he explained. "Lessons you try to teach here at school, you know families do, and when you see kids get involved in their community like that you know, I'm getting a little emotional about it, but you've done some good things with them. It was an awful thing to go through but I think a lot of positive things came out of that in terms of community development."

The embodiment of their spirit came out in the football team's playoff run this season. Despite missing two weeks of practice the Tigers were able to win a Section IV title, a Regional title and make it all the way to the New York state final four.

"Having played here and coached here it was very rewarding to have a team go that far," Taylor said. "They beat Walton, that's only I guess happened once. You're very proud of that kind of achievement, especially starting out the way they did being kind of in the hole. To make the run they did was a little improbable I think but it was a really great achievement."

That wasn't the only big achievement this class has helped earned.

"Athletically we have members of this class part of wrestling teams, softball teams, volleyball teams that have done very well at the state level when they were underclassmen and this year," Taylor explained.

Off the athletic field they've had success, too.

"You know Ben Hoose our valedictorian he was our first selection to an All-State choral group since the mid-80s," Taylor said. "That's a great accomplishment, something were very proud of."

"Maddy Kuhlman, the salutatorian, the New York state Dairy Princess," Taylor continued. "That's more than just a title, they're out doing a lot of ambassadorial work with students around the state."

Seeing such an eclectic array of talents pleases the long time superintendent.

"You realize the kids are very well rounded," Taylor said. "They're not just students, they're not just athletes; they have other talents that are going to benefit them."