East Lyme High School grads told they will continue to make a difference

East Lyme — East Lyme High School Class Laureate Reza Peyravi told the Class of 2018 on Friday that changing the world may seem big, unreasonable, unrealistic and even impossible — but that’s exactly the point.

Peyravi urged fellow graduates as they start out to not be realistic or conventional, but to take risks to be sensational.

“Ignore what’s written in the stars, because it’s now our turn to write them as we see fit,” he said. “And the only way we can do that is by never losing the childlike side of each person that is always dreaming, always soaring.”

The 278 members of East Lyme High School's Class of 2018, dressed in maroon caps and gowns, received their diplomas during the commencement ceremony at the athletic field by the high school, with supporters applauding, cheering and sounding horns.

East Lyme High School Principal Michael Susi said the class has made a difference nationally, locally and individually. He said the graduates helped the school earn National Blue Ribbon recognition from the U.S. Department of Education through their academic achievements, participated in the national movement to end violence in schools and raised funds toward an initiative to bring a Miracle League Field to East Lyme. He said interacting with the students — particularly talking, joking with them and listening to them talk about their day during lunchtime — helped him get through the difficult time when his mother passed away last fall.

“I can say without a doubt that this class is a collection of bright, caring and compassionate students who are and who will continue to work individually, locally and nationally to make this world a better place,” Susi said.

Class President Dennis Carambot said members of the Class of 2018 accomplished so much with their talents.

“If there is one thing that defines our class, it is we don’t have the hesitation to speak up," he said. He said members of the class took the extra step to make their voices heard and, as a result, kept senior late arrival and early dismissal for their class and future classes.

Mingfei Duan, Class of 2018 academic scholar orator, shared how he learned through scouting to do his best and that he was so focused on reaching the mountaintop, he never thought about the climb. He steadily improved through high school, and he realized that no one succeeds the first time and nothing ever goes exactly as expected.

"We stand at what may look like the summit of a mountain but which is actually just a small hill, a local maximum on the never-ending climb upwards," he said. "But I'm not looking for that faraway peak anymore. I'm looking at the trail in front of me, taking my next steps."

Ashley Brown, Class of 2018 academic scholar orator, told fellow graduates to close their eyes and think of all the curveballs they've faced over their four years in high school, including studying until 2 a.m., taking exams, working at summer jobs and completing college applications. She then asked them to open their eyes and look at where they are now.

"You can do anything as long as you put your mind to it," she told them.

East Lyme Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey R. Newton said the graduates' hard work has prepared them to take the next steps, and their support network at home, among their friends and in the school district will stand beside them.

"I know each and every one of you has a gift and a skill set that is unique and magical and a desire to achieve greatness," he told the graduates. "For you are East Lyme Vikings!"

k.drelich@theday.com

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