Pride in graduates’ accomplishments is ‘infinite’

Good afternoon students, parents, community members, Dr. Richards, Mr. Canty, First Selectman Brennan, and members of the Board of Education:

It is with the highest honor that I embrace this opportunity to address the Wilton High School graduating class of 2012. Students, please know that as I look out upon this class, I do not see two separate fields of blue and white gowns, but rather 316 truly unique individuals, all of whom have made significant contributions to this class, its legacy, and our great high school. The strength of this class lies in the incremental contributions that each of you has made. Timing is everything in life, and I thank you for allowing me to begin my career as principal with one of the greatest graduating classes this school community will ever witness.

Graduating class of 2012, your accomplishments are immeasurable. They do not easily lend themselves to commonly used adjectives, but I will cite a few. You are scholarly as indicated by the 35 members of your class who were recognized by the National Merit scholarship program. You are academic high performers as indicated by the number of you who consistently earned honor roll recognition. You are also resilient, as, for many of you, high school academics did not come easily, yet you persevered and never gave up. As school administrators, we are extremely proud of those students who struggled, yet still succeeded.

Graduates, you are gifted in the fine and performing arts as represented by your collective participation in concerts and performances during the school year. Two examples are your senior show which showcased your theatrical talents and the spring musical in which your performance of Oliver was world class. On the athletic fields you were competitive, winning FCIAC and state championships. Most importantly in this arena, you proudly sported the Blue and White, and conducted yourselves with honor and sportsmanship.

Students, I speak on behalf of our entire faculty and staff when I tell you that our pride in your accomplishments, and in your human qualities, is infinite. In fact, I spoke with several faculty members to solicit their insights on this 2012 graduation class. The significant theme emerged that in addition to your academic skills, you chose to dedicate your time and effort to greater causes including cancer awareness and The Relay for Life, domestic violence awareness, anti-bullying efforts, protection of the environment, and inclusion of individuals with special needs. In the words of one faculty member, and I quote, "These seniors are committed to others more than themselves; they are altruistic and do not want to be sung heroes."

Another teacher commented, "These students give beyond themselves and outside of their own self interest. This is not typical of all teenagers."

Another teacher noted that you are "talented, yet humble, which is a true sign of character."

At the beginning of this school year, in our senior class meeting, I challenged all of you to be leaders in some capacity in our high school. Individually and collectively, you have met that challenge and will be remembered as leaders in the Wilton community. Most importantly, you served as good role models for the underclassmen. In addition, I firmly believe that the senior class takes on the character of its leadership and that the school takes on the character of the senior class. This year, you have benefited from outstanding student leadership and initiative from Simon, Claire, Ali, Matt, Sumner, JD, Mariel and their student government peers. These scholars and leaders have been representative of the determination and the caliber of this great class.

As we speak of leadership, it is important that we acknowledge that you are the products of three years of leadership by the greatest Warrior. Mr. Canty led this class during the formative years when you were freshmen and beyond. He led you by example and taught you to how to wear the blue and white with the greatest level of pride. Thank you, Mr. Canty.

Graduates, this is a celebratory day for you, but it is incumbent on all of us to remember, at this time, one of your classmates, Nick Parisot, who perished much too young. In memory of Nick, the student government will plant a tree with a commemorative plaque at a site they have chosen behind the school. Our thoughts are with Nick and the Parisot family at this time including Nick's sister Michelle, a cherished member of the WHS class of 2009. Please join me in a moment of silence to remember your classmate, Nicholas Parisot.

Students, as I attended the recent academic, fine and performing arts, and athletics banquets, I was struck by the unparalleled opportunities you have had at our high school. Firstly, you have built strong lasting relationships with your peers and our staff. You have learned with and from the greatest teaching faculty in the state. You will not soon forget these teachers and will remember many of them the rest of your lives for the positive experiences you shared with them. You have participated in award-winning fine and performing arts and athletic programs. You have benefited from the most supportive parents who truly value education. To your credit, you have seized these opportunities and excelled, thus making your parents, teachers, and our school community very proud.

After this evening, I will greet you not as a student in our school, but as a citizen of the world. You do not end your career as a student as much as you begin your life as an adult. With this new position which you assume tonight, you are afforded many rights and privileges. But with it also come awesome responsibilities and demands. The very fact that you have completed your Wilton High School studies and are part of this audience tonight, means that the last 12 years have prepared you to accept those responsibilities and to meet those demands.

Therefore, take what you have learned and apply it as you begin your new life as an equal partner in the world. You will capitalize on your skills and talents throughout life to meet unforeseen challenges. We, as educators, and you, as students, have each done our part. Now we stand at a gateway, on the other side of which is the world with all that it offers, and all that it demands.

It is the hope and intention of everyone here that your pathway may be straight and true and that your destination may be golden with happiness and alive with vibrant promise.

Dr. Richards, I present to you the Wilton High School graduating class of 2012