Fitch graduates told: 'Promote and encourage what is right'
Groton — Seda Gul Sahin urged her classmates in the graduating class at Robert E. Fitch High School not to wait to make their voices heard.
“In our world today, we somehow feel afraid to speak up and advocate for what we believe is right until something radical happens,” she told the 238 students in the Class of 2016. “We live in a world of waiting.”
Instead, “we should push to promote and encourage what is right,” she said.
Hundreds of family members and friends packed the stands at Dorr Field on Friday evening, cheering, clapping and blowing air horns as Principal Joseph Arcarese listed some of the accomplishments of the class: 85 students receiving scholarships totaling nearly $80,000, members of a robotics team that won the New England championship, an all-state musician, an all-American athlete, a Gatorade softball player of the year, 32 all-conference athletes and a state championship in softball by a team now ranked fourth in the nation.
“You have achieved so much already, but you have a lifetime ahead of you to attain other goals and desires,” he said.
Salutatorian Caroline Elizabeth Taber told the class not to fear change, as it has been there all along.
She also spoke about the school motto: Achieve more, believe more, care more.
“I think it’s time we give this axiom the respect it deserves,” she said.
Never underestimate the value of a kind gesture or just being a good person, she said.
“Remember who you are, where you came from and what you believe in, and you cannot go wrong,” she said.
Jacob Stuart Carlson, valedictorian and president of the class, spoke about Elon Musk, who founded Tesla Motors, which produces electric cars, and SpaceX, which brought supplies to the International Space Station.
Musk knew how to reduce his idle time, Carlson said. The key to doing this is discovering what you’re truly passionate about, he said.
“Start looking for that passion and never stop,” Carlson said.
Even if it’s not clear at first, keep looking.
“For your own future, for our country’s future, for innovation’s sake and for happiness' sake, please promise yourself this,” he said.
Superintendent Michael Graner told the class a story about Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight world champion who died this year.
In 1970, Ali visited the university where Graner was a college student.
At the time, Ali had lost recognition of his boxing championship and been prosecuted for refusing to be inducted into the army based on his religious beliefs.
“But I went to his speech anyway, thinking I’d see a world-class athlete, but not expecting very much, frankly," Graner said.
"What I found, however, was a bright, articulate young man who spoke about the proper place of African-Americans in our society," he said.
"He will always be, for me, a model of a young person who rejected the negative labels and the other definitions that others had given him" and instead decided to be the intelligent, caring person he was, Graner said.