'Embrace the unpredictability': Wilton High seniors cap off challenging school year with graduation

WILTON — This year’s graduation was the final culmination of a very challenging school year, according Wilton High School Principal Robert O’Donnell. And on June 12, the school’s seniors celebrated on Tom Fujitani Field in front of a packed bleachers section of parents and supporters.

Initially, O’Donnell gave the senior students a choice between a drive-thru graduation parade, like the one held for the Class of 2020, or a more traditional ceremony at Veterans Memorial Field. The seniors chose the latter, and last weekend many of the seniors and staff hoped the event would mark the end of a journey forced upon them by the coronavirus pandemic.

“As you know, no other graduating class has experienced quite the challenges that you have,” said Kristina Harvey, the faculty speaker for the Class of 2021. “No class has had to grapple with and come to terms with the reality of uncertainty like you have. No class has truly learned how to appreciate the ordinary moments like you have.”

She weaved through the tale of learning the school would close for a presumed two-week period in March 2020. Harvey quipped that she thought she could almost hear cheering from Wilton students all the way to her home in Westport.

“Suddenly, it was as if we were floating in space on the dark side of the moon, cut off from everything familiar. The topography and landscape of our lives changed in an instant,” Harvey said. “Our lives were suddenly blanketed with a muting silence. We were separated, distant. So much silence and uncertainty and what we didn’t realize at the time was that we were given a reset button. We were given a chance to reassess what is truly important, who is truly important, and to discover the miracle of the ordinary.”

Harvey said she saw this class as a source of inspiration and strength, even when she was feeling uncertainty. She lauded the students for their adaptability and willingness to learn despite unprecedented circumstances.

The Class of 2021 valedictorian Lily Mikita, who will be attending Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio and plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in acting, pointed to her struggles and detailing how she overcame them through feeling a sense of community with her peers. She spoke of how she valued her time back together with her class, even if it was different than before.

“Our time apart has reinforced the importance of gathering together, like we are on this beautiful afternoon,” Mikita said. “When I think of my communities, I think of the relationships I have with many of the people sitting in front of me. I am reminded of the joy I get from self-expression and reaching a common goal. All of these communities help us to grow to become interesting and engaged individuals. This individuality and diversity of thought and experience is what makes our school and larger community thrive.”

She finished with a focus on a common theme held throughout the ceremony — resilience.

“Our brilliance comes from our bravery to adapt to new situations and support one another in the pursuit of growth and progress,” Mikita said. “Our educators lend us their shoulders to stand on, so we can make a brighter future, just as we will lend our shoulders to those who will come after us. So as we gather here together one last time to acknowledge our common ties, we go forth into this new world, this new normal, to explore who we are and who we will become as people and as citizens.”

As a class gift, Class of 2021 Secretary Tori DiRocco presented a donation to the custodial staff for their efforts, and a donation of benches to be placed in the senior parking lot for more outdoor lunch seating.

DiRocco added a “huge thank you” to everyone who had helped raise funds over the past four years to make the gifts possible.

Senior Class President Neil Satsangi spoke of how the past few years have been anything but routine.

“If I was to summarize my high school journey in one word, it would be unpredictable,” Satsangi told the crowd. “Because the truth is, each year was very different from the previous one.”

He left the ceremony with one final piece of advice: “As you head into the next chapter in your lives, I advise you all to embrace the unpredictability and don’t be afraid to take risks.”