Good afternoon, writers and dancers, actors and athletes, poets and painters, musicians and scholars. Good afternoon dreamers and scientists, entrepreneurs, and technophiles, bakers, future soldiers, and storytellers. Good afternoon caregivers and seekers, you sons and daughters of Wilton, you members of the distinguished WHS class of 2014. Welcome all who are gathered here today to celebrate you: your parents, grandparents, siblings and extended families, board members, community leaders, friends and teachers. People who have cared for you and cared about you, people who have challenged and enlightened you, people who have comforted you and loved you. I confess that the class of 2014 has, and will always occupy, a special place in my heart. There are many reasons for this: First, I have known many of you since you were toddlers and have followed your progress since I joined you here in 2004 when you were in third grade. I have known a good number of your parents and even had the honor of awarding two of them their high school diplomas many years ago! Along with our staff, I have been deeply impressed with your many achievements in the classroom, on performing stages, in galleries, on athletic fields and in the community. I have been awed and humbled by your commitment to community service and by the depth of your kindness to each other and to those you have interacted with in other parts of your lives. I hope that you will forgive me for inserting myself into your commencement but the truth is that another connection we share is that I too am \u201ccommencing.\u201d Although many years separate us, we are together embarking on parallel journeys. What is it that we have in common? We are exchanging a place we have known for places that will be both physically and psychologically new to us. I recently read an article about commencements in my college alumni magazine. The author commented that the proposition of graduating is scary in that we are being gently ushered to the door and sent out into the world to lead lives we\u2019ve never led. A second commonality that we share is that we are full of questions, including, but by no means limited to, the following: Will we \u201cfit in\u201d in our new surroundings? Will we be prepared? Will we acquire new skills and discover talents we did not know we possessed? Will we make new friends who will be positive influences in our lives? Will we \u201creinvent\u201d ourselves in our new place and what will that look like? Will we have learned valuable lessons from our previous failures, avoid making similar mistakes, and treat ourselves gently when we inevitably fall down on occasion? Speaking of failures, I am reminded of a famous commencement speech given at Syracuse University a few years back by a writer named George Saunders. He said, \u201cWhat I regret most in my life are the failures of kindness.\u201d What he meant by this was that he regretted the times when he did not extend kindness in situations where it might have made a big difference. I sincerely hope that we will avoid these kinds of failures as we move to new places. Another question that some of us are pondering is \u201cwill we find ways to diminish our preoccupation with ourselves and live lives that are selfless and giving?\u201d The poet Hugh Prather talked about the importance of becoming more other-centered. He wrote, \u201cI can\u2019t be found in myself; I discover myself in others. That much is clear. And I suspect that I also love and care for myself in others.\u201d A fitting way for each of us to continue our journey on the path leading to other-centered lives is for us to take the opportunity today, and over the next few days, to sincerely thank our families, teachers and others for the support they provided that helped make today possible. There are many more questions we have but a final one for you to consider today is, \u201cAs we leave here today and head off into our futures, will we be able to safely get outside of our comfort zones and open ourselves to new experiences? While I strongly believe in the importance of planning in our lives, I share the view of Joseph Campbell that \u201cwe must be willing to leave the life we\u2019ve planned and be ready for the life that is waiting for us.\u201d I take great comfort in the knowledge that our years here in Wilton have helped us broaden and deepen our understanding of the world, and develop values, discipline, skills and habits of mind that will help us successfully navigate and adjust to the unplanned aspects of our journeys. In closing, I would like to share a cartoon with you. I have long admired cartoonists who have conveyed important messages to their readers. One such artist is a man named Bill Watterson, who wrote the nationally syndicated cartoon strip \u201cCalvin and Hobbes.\u201d This strip chronicles the adventures of a six-year-old boy named Calvin, a precocious, adventurous and mischievous child, and his wise stuffed tiger Hobbes. Like, the Velveteen Rabbit or stuffed animals you may have treasured, Hobbes was very real to Calvin. The last strip Watterson published found Calvin and Hobbes trudging up a snow-covered hill pulling a toboggan. Calvin: \u201cWow! It really snowed last night! Isn\u2019t it wonderful?\u201d Hobbes: \u201cEverything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand new!\u201d Calvin: (To that Calvin replies,) \u201cA New Year\u2026A fresh clean start!\u201d Hobbes: \u201cIt\u2019s like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on!\u201d And as the two race down the hill on the toboggan Calvin cries out, \u201cA day full of possibilities. It\u2019s a magical world Hobbes, ol\u2019 buddy\u2026 \u201cLet\u2019s go exploring!\u201d In that spirit, Mr. Likly it is my honor to present to you the 290 members of the Wilton High School class of 2014. They have successfully fulfilled all of the requirements for graduation from Wilton High School and they are ready to receive their diplomas, head off to New York, and from there, set off to explore the world! Congratulations! Dr. Richards\u00a0gave this speech during the 2014 Wilton High School graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 21. Read more about the 2014 Wilton High School graduation commencement here.