Two Liberty Central School District graduates who had huge impacts on the school and community were honored Friday, June 23, during the annual Liberty Central School District Wall of Fame ceremony that was held before graduation.
More than 80 friends and family of Joyce Eggler Teed and Daniel C. Thalmann attended the ceremony, which was moved from the high school lobby to the cafeteria because of the large number of attendees.
“The overwhelming response of those who wished to honor these two worthy alumni was impressive,” said LCSD Assistant Superintendent Lynnette Brunger, who led the ceremony. “They both show the positive impact one individual can have on a community.”
The Wall of Fame was established in 2011 by the Board of Education to honor extraordinary alumni. Nominees are judged on exceptional accomplishments and significant contributions within their career, community or personal life.
First to be honored was Danny Thalmann, who passed away last year. Thalmann graduated from Liberty in 1981, and after a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard, opened Thalmann’s Service Center in 1989. His business was more than a place where vehicles were fixed, it was also a place where generosity flowed easily.
His daughters, Alyssa Thalmann and Jessica Osterhout, accepted the award on his behalf. They spoke of their father’s love of Liberty and how much he loved to give back to the community.
He served in several local organizations, including the Elks and Lions. He also donated his time and money to several organizations, including Liberty Rotary Club, the Boys & Girls Club, Liberty Cub Scout Pack 717, AYSO Soccer, Little Leagues, Soap Box Derby and the Liberty Fire Department. He was named a Paul Harris Fellow Award winner for his contributions to Rotary.
Thalmann’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic also showed his commitment to Liberty. His donations helped ensure the LHS Class of 2022 was able to have prom and a senior trip since fundraising efforts were disrupted by the shutdowns. He also volunteered to bag and deliver vegetables to A Single Bite sites for two summers.
After Thalmann’s daughters spoke, they were presented with proclamations from New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Sullivan County Legislator Luis Alvarez. Alvarez spoke of Thalmann’s big heart that he extended even to those he didn’t know. Alvarez said that when he moved to the area, he didn’t know that many people. When his car broke down, he brought it to Thalmann’s garage to get fixed. He didn’t have much money, and Thalmann told him to pay him back whenever he could. Alvarez said the two became friends, as their children grew up together.
The next honoree, Joyce Teed, also recognized Thalmann’s generosity and love of the community, saying she wished he was there so they could be honored together.
Teed, a 1958 graduate and longtime Liberty employee and school board member, was recognized for her contributions to the school and community. She assisted in the establishment of systems and processes that helped the school run efficiently. She was quick to learn and implement computer technology and became the go-to tech person across the district. She held many roles at Liberty from secretary to board member.
Her service to the community went beyond the school setting. She was a star athlete who saw the need to provide various opportunities for girls and young women in the community. Teed was a co-founder of a weekly girls softball team and chartered a 4-H Group. She was also involved in her community through her church as well as various municipal and community boards.
“The last two months, I’ve been asking myself, ‘Why me?’ Why me when there are so many others who are so deserving?” she said, speaking to the crowd.
The reason was evident. She followed her parents’ advice.
“My parents told me to do good, help other people, try to make a difference in the world,” she said.
Her mother gave her additional advice, she added: “Don’t waste your life.”
During the ceremony, Teed was also presented with state and county proclamations from Gunther and Alvarez that recognize her commitment to the community.
“We are honored to recognize these two stalwarts of the community,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan said. “They are truly an inspiration for the graduating Class of 2023.”
Liberty Central School District gained more than 100 new alumni as 105 seniors crossed the stage of the high school’s Robert Van Slyke Gymnasium on Friday, June 23, to officially become graduates.
The overarching theme of the evening was perseverance, even to the musical selection of the “Rocky” theme song, played by the high school band.
“The Class of 2023 represents a class of perseverance and courage,” Principal Derek Adams said. “This class is the last high school class to experience pre-COVID, COVID and post-COVID high school life.”
Class President Grace Hernandez said the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic required the class to adapt to the ever-changing situations. “Every challenge in life presents us with an opportunity to learn and grow and to be something positive,” she said. “We had to learn to be more flexible, more adaptable, and most importantly, we learned to hang in there and stick it out in the most difficult of times.”
Learning from the difficulties is important, valedictorian Dylan Nichols said.
“Hardship defines your character. It is the catalyst for growth. So, as we enter into this new territory, I’m going to challenge you all to embrace the difficulties that you experience. Handle them to the best of your ability, and learn from those experiences,” he said.
That thought was echoed by Superintendent Dr. Patrick Sullivan.
“Throughout our academic and career experiences, we will always face setbacks, and only you can allow these setbacks to become failures,” he said “There is a difference between setbacks and failures, but that difference is up to you. If you allow a setback to stop you from moving forward, it becomes a failure.”
Showing the flexibility that the Class of 2023 has had to embrace over the past four years, the ceremony was originally scheduled to be held outside on the football field, but storms forced the event to be moved into the high school gym.
“I think it may be fitting to have the Class of 2023 to have graduation in this gym as the last class to be recognized as Liberty Indians,” Adams said. “This gym represents the history and pride of Liberty as the Indians, and I cannot think of a better class to carry this legacy.”
Because of a state mandate, Liberty has chosen a new mascot and team name, the RedHawks, that will be effective at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
“This class has overcome too much to think that this graduation is where it ends, so don’t be sad that it’s over, but instead be happy. Be happy for the good times that we’ve had at Liberty, and the good times to come,” Salutatorian Jackson Wolcott said. “Be proud of our accomplishments here at Liberty. To my class, remember to be thankful for those who helped you get to this moment because without them, who knows what the Class of 2023 would look like.”
Those classmates have been important, Nichols said.
“I’ve learned what it means to be a part of a community where we have all done our best for one another,” he said. “Whether it was the painting of senior rock, playing sports, or waking up at 4 a.m. to see the sunset together, this year has taught me what Liberty Pride is all about.”
Nichols’ father, Board of Education President John Nichols, also spoke of the importance of community.
“It takes a community to raise a child,” he said. “Remember all those that played a role as you grew into the incredible young adults that you are.”
He also offered advice for the Class of 2023.
“You have the choice between good and bad. I’m not talking about right and wrong. I’m not talking about good from evil. What I’m talking about is people and circumstances,” he said. “If you do focus on the negative, this is what will drive your future. Conversely, if you can focus on the good in people and the good in situations, and find the silver lining, your future will reflect those positive attributes and your future will be bright.”
Hernendez challenged her classmates to make that future bright, for themselves and others. “Wherever you go in life, go with all of your heart,” Hernandez said. “Go into the world and do well, but most importantly, go into the world and do good.”