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Last of the Mohicans: graduates look back on school's long history

By JOLEEN FERRIS

MOHAWK, N.Y. (WKTV) - A 125-year history is about to come to an end, as the Mohawk Central School District prepares to graduate its final class next month.

Voters in February chose to merge the Ilion and Mohawk Districts in order to offer students more opportunities they simply could not afford to provide, as well as to avoid the risk of losing programs.

"It's taking away our identity. I feel our identity will be gone. This is the end of Mohawk High School" says Mohawk Village Historian Lillian Gaherty.

Gaherty, however, feels that the payoff is worth it in the end.

"I think the kids are going to have more opportunity," she said. "I feel they are. More curriculum, more things that they can take as electives."

Mohawk's first graduating class received their diplomas in June of 1888-all three of them. An historic marker sits on the high school's original site, across from the municipal building.

Mohawk Class of '78 graduate Don Baylor sports a "Last of the Mohicans" t-shirt. He has fond memories of his years in the Mohawk School district, but he, too feels merger the Mohawk and Ilion districts will benefit students in the end.

"Just, you know, being with friends. In a small school atmosphere you kind of knew everybody in your class because it was a smaller school," he said. "You get into a bigger school, I imagine it's a whole different atmosphere."

Graduate Jade Hassett is excited for the opportunities that a merged district will bring her children.

"I have one that graduated from Mohawk and I have two more coming through and I still think it's great," Hassett said. "I'm very excited about it. The name doesn't matter. I'm actually excited about their opportunities."

Jarvis Junior Senior High School becomes Central Valley Middle School in the fall. But not to Gaherty.

"It's still Mohawk," she said.

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