Cooper Pellaton: ‘Welcome to graduation’

Good evening, Wilton High School Class of 2015, and welcome friends, family and WHS faculty who’ve come to support all of us on such a momentous occasion in our lives.
My name is Cooper Pellaton and I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the Executive Board president this past year. It’s been a distinct honor to represent the 328 seniors in this class of 2015, the 328 champions of academics, sports and the gamut of other activities we all pursue.
To be quite honest, it’s taken me a while to figure out precisely what I would say here today. It was exactly one year ago today, when we saw the Class of 2014 off, that I resolved I would write the graduation remarks then and be done with it (I had assumed that the year would be very static) and for a while I stuck by that. It wasn’t until a friend remarked on the importance of today that I abandoned that plan...
For many of you, Wilton is the only place you’ve known. For many, your fellow graduates are the people you started your schooling with, and your homes are those to which you’ve always been able to return, and today is the last day that we will all be together (save reunions). It was the emotion (the realization of the importance of this final day) that struck me. It was then that I realized I had to offer something more than a standard address.
I would now like to ask all who join us here today to think on the events of the last four years, whether it be the numerous championships our student athletes won, our academic accomplishments and awards, or the community outreach which we have done. In some way, Wilton High School has empowered us all to achieve success. We were given, or found a way to get, the tools we needed to accomplish some task which we all felt compelled to act upon. I know that personally I am very grateful for the faith that was vested in me by those in this building and for that I (and I hope you, similarly) will be eternally grateful.
Often we can be very negative about this place and all that surrounds us. Being so complacent here makes it easy to be critical, but I guarantee you it would be hard to find some place better off than us here, on balance. It is different for each and every graduate sitting here today, but you’ve all been prepared, by some means, for what comes next whether it be through a lacrosse coach’s advice, or that of your mathematics teacher. We’ve shared in experiences that will shape the rest of our lives.
But now those four years are over, and today we celebrate all that has happened, and all that is to happen. We stand at the beginning of the rest of our lives, the end of our youth (OK, maybe this is dramatic) and the beginning of our adult lives. So I ask you, do you know what it means to be an adult? I agree with Paul Graham’s definition of it to be one who “take[s] intellectual responsibility for oneself.” Today is the first day that you are expected to take control of your intellectual desire, and to independently pursue that which interests you.
So before you go on, and forget about me, I’d caution you of one thing...
Do not let what we celebrate here today define you. Whether you accomplished something significant and were featured in our local newspapers, or felt more comfortable going under the radar throughout high school, do not become obsessed with what you have done, for you run the risk of doing nothing else. I urge you all to raise your heads and open your eyes. Be cognizant of the opportunities which lie ahead, and never, never define yourself by what you’ve done.
Today you are a champion, tomorrow you are nothing. Today you are a champion, tomorrow you are nothing.
Go decide what you will pursue tomorrow.
Welcome to graduation.