3 1of3Ava Kaplan, president of Wilton High School's executive board, welcomes everyone to commencement exercises on June 15, 2019. — Erik Trautmann/Hearst Connecticut Media Show MoreShow Less 2of3The Wilton High School Class of 2019 Commencement Exercises Saturday, June 15, 2019, at the school in Wilton, Conn. Show MoreShow Less 3of3 Ava Kaplan President, Executive Board Hi everyone, and welcome. For those of you who may not know me, my name is Ava Kaplan. I’m so incredibly honored to be speaking in front of you all today. I want to take a moment to genuinely thank everyone for being here to celebrate with us, and to thank the Wilton High School staff and administration, as well as everyone who participated in the behind the scenes execution of this ceremony. I also want to thank my family, who I know is taking up an entire row somewhere in this stadium, and my mom especially. Freshman me didn’t understand what the big deal about graduation was. High school graduation just seemed like the natural progression of things-- why did we need this whole ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance??? I now realize, having grown a little bit, what an incredibly privileged thought that was to have. So before I go further, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge all of the equally deserving individuals who have never had the chance to get to this point, whether it be because they are denied an education because of their sex, or because wherever they live is in so much turmoil that it is unsafe to go to school, or they have been barred from our country or a country where they could get the education they deserve, or in our own country because their local school systems are critically underfunded, or because they have been killed on the basis of their race or sexuality, or have been a victim of gun violence, or the hundreds of other reasons that have prevented smart, capable students from graduating that we as a community have never had to encounter. I consider myself and all of us incredibly lucky to have grown up in this safe, nurturing town, where, although we have our own challenges, almost my entire class can be here today celebrating our high school graduation. Within our own community, we commemorate this day for many reasons, but the main one, in my humble opinion is the following: It’s because high school is hard. So, congrats, everyone. We’ve earned this. Although I’d like to declare myself an expert on post-high school graduation life, I have no idea what’s store for all of us. However, I do consider myself an expert on my life leading up to graduation, and the moments and years that we as a class have spent together, culminating in this very moment. Some of us have been going to school together since kindergarten. There are classmates here right now who I was classmates with when I was four years old. And there are some of you graduating with me today who have only gone to Wilton Public Schools for a year or two, and yet you have equally experienced what we as a group of people and what we as a town have to offer-- including the the good, like our charming 5 star colonial gazebo that sits on the lawn outside of our local CVS, and the bad, like the fact that that gazebo is Wilton’s main attraction other than our proximity to the city. I’ll also truly miss being able to say ‘the city’ and have everyone know exactly which city I’m referring to. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the hours we have spent together, and the collective experiences that will define us and unite us for the rest of our lives. The stories I will tell about our high school, and about our town, and about growing up will all be variations on your stories. Because although I haven’t had a conversation with many of you in years, if ever, we will both be telling our friends, or our children, or whoever we happen to be reminiscing with in however long from now, about the same town, the same jungle, and the same trash that you guys always leave in the jungle. We’ll share photos from the same parties, the same slot, and for some of us, the same elementary school classrooms. We’ll all hate the color orange for the rest of our lives, and we’ll all know that even though Ridgefield is public enemy number one, we all secretly believe that Darien is the worst town in the FCIAC. And I’ll tell people who have never heard of Wilton, Connecticut, about the time our senior class played nerf gun assassin, and the stories I recount will forever be connected to yours. And for that, I am so grateful. Because wherever we all end up, and regardless of who we each were high school, we’ll all be connected by these shared experiences and memories for the rest of our lives. I’m grateful for the people who showed up on a cold day in November to spend time with their classmates, start a tradition, and paint their parking spots, and especially those who stuck it out even when parking overflow from a swim meet at the Y blocked their spots. I’m grateful for the people who sacrificed their egos by sinking to my level and becoming theater kids for the sake of class bonding during senior show. You guys are truly brave. I’m grateful that if Belden couldn’t win senior class field day, it was Kent, because we all know that they’ve always been the underdogs. I’m grateful for Saferides in the earliest hours of the morning in a car with someone who I never had the chance to really get to know outside of that drive. Being a Wilton Warrior has defined my life so far. This exact group of people and this exact school has taught me the skills and lessons that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. If I can give any advice, it would be not to forget that. It would be to constantly remind yourself that I, and everyone who has helped you and been by your side to this exact moment, will still be here for you on the other side of this ceremony. All of us have far more similarities than differences, regardless of what arises on ask.fm or Wilton 412. And I could stand here and reminisce about class of 2019 moments for hours, but we have the rest of our lives to do that, plus all of our grandparents in the audience, including my own, already have no idea what I’m talking about. I am so thankful for the laughs and lessons that you all have brought into my life, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us. Thank you all, and congratulations. Maddie Burke Valedictorian Good afternoon, Wilton High School Class of 2019 and congratulations to each and every one of you. It is an absolute honor to be able to stand before a group of individuals that is so exceptionally vibrant, accomplished, and poised to take on the world. My purpose today is to offer some form of wisdom, some suggestion of purpose, or a speck, a glimmer of hope that will carry us into the next phase of our lives with a sense of assuredness. But when I really thought about it, I’m not sure I can do that. I’m eighteen, I still can’t confidently park between two cars, and I’m almost positive that I left my hair straightener plugged in back at my house (Sorry about that, Mom). I don’t have the power to glimpse into our futures and report back with any highlights. I can’t promise that it will be sunny and dry on your wedding day, or that the human race won’t face an early demise due to the devastating effects of climate change. I can’t even promise that you will win the AirPods at PGP, or the sunrise at Compo Beach tomorrow morning will be the spectacular shades of pink, orange and yellow that our Snapchat stories so desire. But, admittedly, there are some things that I do know. I know that completing 4 years at this high school has taught us a myriad of lessons - some that we may forget, but others that we will remember for the rest of our lives. In other words, we are done here… this is it. But today, Saturday, June 15th, 2019, is just a pin, a road marker, a geotag (if you will) that defines a culmination... the totality of our academic, moral, and social education thus far. Today is a day to let you know that you’ve made it, but it’s also a day to think about who you are now and to remember who and what you’ve been before. Even though there is a finality in the air, we mustn’t forget that the school behind me, and the ones just down the road, taught us to be - in every sense of the word. We learned and we wondered and we cried and we laughed and we grew up together within the four walls of those buildings. So, after 13 years, there must be some things we all know. Number 1: It is important to hold the door… especially the heavy one on the third floor near staircase four. Holding doors is a non-verbal communication that we support the person behind us. It signals connection, camaraderie, and kindness - all traits we’ve fostered here. And while we’re at it, we know that it’s right to let people back out of their parking spots during the 2:55 traffic jam. We’ve learned how to be selfless. Number 2: Working together makes a difference. How many Cider Mill Tug-O-War champions are in the crowd today? We’ve learned to honor our commitments, to trust our classmates, and to be team-players. After all, it took a whole lot of teamwork to break that Middlebrook playground with the vigor that we did. Whether group projects, wind ensembles, or a classic game of matball in gym class, we’ve been our best when we’ve been together. Number 3: Look to your left… and now look to your right. The people around you have likely taught you how to be... more than any book, exam, or lecture ever could. The memories you’ve shared with friends, or teammates, or acquaintances will be the ones that will ignite your 40 year old self with a spark of nostalgia, driving you to call-up those goofballs you met in high school. Since freshman year, we’ve spent almost 5,000 hours with each other. We’ve learned to be friendly, to be cheerful, but with a hint of snide self-deprecation, and to be endlessly supportive. We’ve learned that our relationships with one another have brought the brightest light of all into our lives. And Number 4: We’ve become… whatever it is we wanted to become. Personally, I wore an ENORMOUS pink bow in my hair on the first day of freshman year. And to tell you the truth, I just might wear a bow to PGP tonight. So maybe I’ll always be Maddie Burke — the girl who wears bows in her hair. But, we ALL have grown up to be… to be scholars and activists and notable athletes and distinguished performers and aspiring playwrights and inquisitive student journalists and wonderful friends and, above all, people. We’ve become the people we will continue to be after we leave this field today. So, Class of 2019, go be those people. Never forget to lock your gym locker. Always keep your head up amidst the chaos of life’s five minute passing period. Continue to make noise, bring a smile to the faces of others, and play Super Smash Brothers in whatever becomes your next Jungle. Strive for excellence. Be courageous. Be dazzlingly bright. Be selfless… and yes, at the right times maybe a little selfish. Be smart… we didn’t take all those hard classes for nothing. Be bold. Be kind. Be good. Just be. Kimberly Castano Senior Class Vice President Good Evening, and Congratulations to US! My name is Kimberly Castano and I am the vice president of the senior class. I want to thank all of the parents, teachers, the Wilton Community and you the class of 2019, for the support you have given us to make this years gifts possible. It is difficult to show our appreciation with an object that represents all our Wilton High School experiences. But, the class of 2019 is proud to present the following gifts. Though our memories together are intangible, the class of 2019 has given each senior an individualized class coffee mug with each of your peers names on it. This coffee mug will be a tangible reminder of each of your classmates and the memories you have made together. Not only will we remember our class because of this mug but we have given every teacher, administrator and staff in the building our mug as well. So wherever we land next year, perhaps the faculty here at Wilton will be sipping their coffee thinking of us while facing their naively confident, doe-eyed freshmen. In addition to the mugs they will remember us by the donations that will put a smile on their faces no matter how far away we are. We will be making a significant donation to the "Sunshine Fund." This fund was created for teachers and administrators to receive support such as flowers and cards when they are experiencing an important event in their lives. Through this fund, they will continue to feel our love and support the way they have loved and supported us. Furthermore, the class of 2019 will install a "Venue Run - Electronic/Video Information System." This is a digital display system serves as a communicator between the athletic department and warrior fans while creating an interactive experience for athletes and fans alike. We will be able to see how and when Wilton Warriors athletes set records by this system. And finally, there will be a constant visual reminder on the exterior of Wilton High School for all to see. As much as we joke about the architecture of this building, our class has dedicated campus banners to alleviate our industrial appearance and remind us that this is a place full of love, laughter, and learning. On behalf of the class of 2019, I would like to thank every teacher, and parent for your continued support. So Class of 2019, Congratulations again and always keep in mind that as we move forward there will always be something valuable that we have left behind.