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Ledyard grads now part of 'proud past'

Ledyard — The officers of the Class of 2018 revived an old tradition at the graduation ceremony Friday night with a giant colorful banner listing the 19 schools in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

The senior gift, which hadn’t been done in several years, was presented to the school to recognize the towns that not only face Ledyard in sports but also contribute students to Ledyard High School through the Agri-Science program.

Principal Amanda Fagan started with the students in that program in her speech about the community that had been created over the last four years, noting that they were the ones who had to board their buses as early as 6 a.m. to get to school and would represent Ledyard at national conventions for FFA. She then singled out the students in the music department, students who played sports and so on until all were standing, to show how everyone was a valuable contributor to what makes Ledyard special.

Class President Jacob Money highlighted the unity of the 191-member Class of 2018, making it through tough practices, exams or performances together. He reminded students to remember the bonds and fond memories they’ve shared over the years to help them get through the inevitable tough times and be there for one another.

Several Ledyard Scholars, representing the top 10 students in the class, also addressed their peers and families Friday evening on the high school football field. Erika deAndrade, who also was the class poet laureate, joked that her poem was her belated Father’s Day present to her dad, who always encouraged her to “just try.”

"Do not be afraid to try; be afraid to not try,” she recited. "We sit amongst each other, each with our own paths, our own ambitions. We will all face our own struggles. However, wherever our decisions take us, just remember to just try.”

Charlie Crain challenged his classmates to address what he called a civility crisis in the world. He acknowledged that people have always disagreed and always will, but the Class of 2018 will set the tone for the future and should take a closer look at how to make meaningful progress in the world.

Lauryn Lu and Katy Miller chose failure as the focal point of their joint speech, quoting author H. Stanley Judd in saying, “If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” Lu said society focuses too much on successes rather than the struggles that led to them; Miller compared those failures to the roots of the flower of success.

Rachel Kane and Terry Zhou said graduation was the last of many lasts — last English class, last sports banquet, last time waiting in the lunch line — but with every last comes a new first and a new opportunity to succeed. While “Proud past, bright future” is the mantra of LHS Music specifically, Kane said it applied to everyone in the class.

Julia Paul and Cara Tran peppered their speech with “High School Musical” references, telling their classmates to “break free," never “stick to the status quo,” and they’re “all in this together” as they head toward the “start of something new.”

To close her speech, Fagan reminded students of the four “Be”s: be present, be grateful, be forgiving and be safe.

"Choose your friendships and your relationships wisely,” she said, citing the importance of self-care as part of being safe. “And confidently decline to be anything less or be treated as anything less than you were born to be."


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