Stonington grads sowing seeds of kindness, ambition

Stonington — Friday’s dreary weather cleared out just in time for the 170 graduates of the Class of 2019 to receive their diplomas on Palmer Field.

The sun peeked through the clouds periodically through the ceremony Friday evening, which commencement speaker and special education teacher Deidre Toole emphasized in her speech, upon the request of Principal Mark Friese. She told the graduates that it was not only the first day of summer but also the beginning of a new season in their lives, and that several staff and faculty members noted the hardworking and kind spirit of the class.

The “ability to work hard and be kind makes you, the Class of 2019, so special. It is not a question of whether you will make our world better, but how. We cannot wait to see what you do.”

Class President Nicolas Turco took inspiration from Arnold Schwarzenegger in giving advice to his fellow graduates: have a vision, break the rules, don’t be afraid to fail, ignore the naysayers, work hard and give back. The last piece of advice was honored through the class gift: two water bottle refilling stations to be installed at water fountains on the first and second floors of the high school.

“What do you want? What do you want in life? Don’t answer the question too fast with something simple like success, money or a beautiful spouse," he said. "While those are all good answers, I want you to take this question with you throughout life and think about it. Whenever you’re making a decision, ask yourself, ‘Is this helping me get what I want?’ And when you finally come up with that answer, ask yourself, ‘What do I have to do to achieve that goal?’”

Salutatorian Christian Donovan said that his class is full of talented and determined individuals, and the ECC titles, arts awards and robotics competitions show that.

“To be fair, I’m sure every school has people who excel in sports, academics, music, and more, but here, many — and emphasis on many — of those people are skilled in all of those things,” he said. “I’ve seen every member of Stonington’s Class of 2019 display a multitude of talents and skills and dedicate themselves wholly to all of them. No one here is a one-trick pony.”

After diplomas were awarded and students entering the military were honored, Principal Mark Friese said the legacy of the Class of 2019 will be more than their water bottle refilling stations.

“Your tenacity, grit and motivation to succeed will be the standard that all future students will strive to emulate,” he said. “Your class has truly been remarkable.”

Valedictorian Caroline Morehouse sent off her classmates with a speech on the value of music in their lives. The songs that get Stonington High School’s graduates going in the morning, are both what makes them unique and also what brings them together, even if that song is “Party+ Rock Anthem” producing flashbacks to the pepper spray incident at senior prom.

“No one can say for certain what our soundtracks of the future will be, but we can be sure that these songs will bond us to the people and events that have shaped who we are,” Morehouse said.

a.hutchinson@theday.com

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