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Waterford graduates told there is power in uncertainty

By Stephen Chupaska

Publication: The Day

Published June 23. 2011 4:00AM   Updated June 23. 2011 11:03AM
Abigail Pheiffer/The Day
Julie Lavoie, center, gives a friend a thumbs-up as graduates line up Wednesday for the Waterford High School commencement ceremony at Connecticut College in New London. Go online at www.theday.com to see a photo gallery from the event.

New London - In her speech to classmates at the Waterford High School commencement Wednesday, Class of 2011 valedictorian Emily Diana found it a bit puzzling that she was asked to give an inspirational speech to mark the occasion.

After all, Diana, 18, said, she and her fellow graduates are in transition.

"I'm legally an adult, but just a kid," Diana said. "I haven't seen the world."

But instead of marching through a list of typical graduation day platitudes, Diana asked her classmates to embrace some of the ambivalence about the future that might be residing in her fellow 249 graduates, all clad in their Waterford blue academic regalia.

"The only thing we are certain about is uncertainty itself," Diana said. "There's a power in it. It's what makes us read mystery novels and watch horror movies."

There was also some uncertainty about where the school's 52nd commencement would take place.

Already moved from the school grounds to Connecticut College because of construction on the school building, the ceremony was moved again from the college's Temple Green to inside Palmer Auditorium because of the rain.

The change of location made for a different kind of ceremony.

Normally the school's commencement takes place at the Waterford football field with family and friends far away in the bleachers.

Inside Palmer Auditorium, Wednesday's ceremony was a more intimate affair, as some parents rushed to the aisles to snap photos of their son or daughter as they entered the room.

Other parents exchanged a quick handshake or made eye contact to offer a knowing, proud smile.

In his speech, salutatorian Bingyao Zhou made sure to thank parents on behalf of his fellow seniors.

"You gave us advice when we were lost," Zhou said. "And you forgave us when we ignored it."

The graduation was also the first in Waterford for Superintendent of Schools Jerome Belair, who assumed the district's helm in February.

He urged the class to dream big.

"Not dreaming of success is not acceptable," Belair said.

s.chupaska@theday.com

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