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East Lyme High School grads told to embrace unique talents, individuality

East Lyme — Peter Tauro, the president of East Lyme High School's Class of 2017, said his fellow graduates are wonderful and talented individuals: from the top violinist in the state to everyone who went to late-night basketball games and brought back the East Lyme spirit to the North Gym.

Together, they made their high school experience one he would never want to replace, he said.

"If there is one aspect of our class that defines us, it's that everyone is their own person," he said. "To quote Stephen Covey, 'Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.' It is those differences that make our class who we are."

The 255 graduates gathered in the gym on the rainy Friday evening to celebrate their years in high school during the commencement ceremony. Wearing maroon caps and gowns, they marched across the stage to receive their diplomas, as family, friends, faculty and local officials applauded. The overflow crowd watched the ceremony live on screen inside the auditorium. 

"Each and every one of you sitting before us brings something unique to the table," Superintendent Jeffrey Newton said. "Find your talent and embrace it, and reap the benefits of your hard work. The future possibilities before you are endless."

Principal Michael Susi said the class stood out as "really, really nice." People went out of their way at events — from the senior trip to prom — to share that the class was the most polite and respectful group of students they have seen. 

Senior laureate Abigail Horner said she learned in high school that everyone is special and has unique skills.

"I can confidently say that I believe everybody in this audience is good at something," she said. "I encourage each of you to find that something."

Academic scholar orator Lily Zhong encouraged graduates to remember that "the future is not someplace we will soon discover, but rather something we will soon create."

Academic scholar orator Piper Baine said the graduates are now part of the legacy of generations who sat in the same desks and brought about "brilliant changes in the world."

"Carry forth your light of wisdom and set the world ablaze," Baine said. "And, may you leave behind your Viking legacy for those who will sit in your desks for years to come."


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