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Montville High School graduates remember who helped them achieve

Montville — In a style fitting the Buzzfeed-dominated online world, Abigail Baukus included in her speech a list.

"Ten things the Class of 2016 learned in high school."

Her list covered a lot of ground.

"You'll never truly be ready," Baukus, the Montville High School Class of 2016 salutatorian told the families and friends.

"Every life is different, so never feel like you're doing it wrong," was another. "Be kind to everyone you meet."

Sitting on chairs on the field behind the high school they were leaving behind, the Class of 2016 graduated Monday evening after hearing from speeches from several people who told them not to forget who got them there.

Baukus urged her fellow graduates to think of who helped them get to graduation day, and to thank them before they left.

"Tell them the impact they've had on your life," she said.

She added that graduating high school presents an opportunity to claim their own lives, now that the standardized tests and Advanced Placement exams are over.

"Sometimes it feels like that's all we are — a set of numbers," she said. "We can redefine ourselves and our accomplishments in a way that a standardized test never could."

Valedictorian Shaun Radgowski, who plans to start at Yale University in the fall, mentioned his teachers, family and friends in a speech that began with a joke.

"Two muffins are in an oven," Radgowski started out, pausing for several seconds for comedic effect.

It was the one where one muffin mentions the heat and the other one says "Oh my God, a talking muffin."

"This is the least funny joke of all time," Radgowski admitted.

But it provided a lesson about people's ability not to notice what's going on right in front of them, he said.

"We, too, are unaware of our own voices."

Radgowski urged his fellow graduates to use their newly acquired high school diplomas as a tool to combat injustice in the world and fight for the people who haven't had the privilege to go to school.

"There are millions of people our age who don't get to worry about doing their hair for prom," he said. "We are so sheltered from the way the majority of the world lives," he said. "Be the talking muffin."

With those words, and a speech by 1991 Montville High School graduate Emily Williams Knight, the 167 members of the Class of 2016 got their diplomas.

With yells and air horn blasts coming from the stadium stands, and darkening clouds dotting the sky, they moved the tassels across their mortarboard hats, then threw them in the air.


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