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Stonington High Class of 2021 ready to make history

Stonington — Spilled milk, WikiHow and cellular respiration were among the notable anecdotes shared Friday at Stonington High School’s commencement for the Class of 2021.

Valedictorian Taylor Donovan elected to address her classmates with cliches, after a stint with writer’s block led her to a Google search turning up a WikiHow article on “How to write a graduation speech.”

“Step two: Avoid cliches,” Donovan recalled. “... Why should I avoid cliches, and why can’t they be inspiring?”

In a time of unpredictability, cliches offer stability and deeper meaning, she went on to explain.

Don’t cry over spilled milk. Everything happens for a reason. The rest is history. These were Donovan’s messages to her 168 fellow graduates Friday evening, which she said represented the past, present and future.

Spilled milk was a reminder of freshman year biology, she said, where cellular respiration was a key theme. The process requires energy to begin and results in a net gain of energy in the body.

“This reminded me that although you might spill a glass of milk, it's likely that you still have an entire milk jug sitting in your fridge,” Donovan said. “A small spill can be easily cleaned up, and a new glass of milk can be easily poured.”

As for the present, she said even failure has a reason — that is, to serve as motivation to improve and an opportunity to grow.

Lastly, everything that’s yet to come will become history one day.

“We don't know exactly how our lives will proceed, but we can decide to lead lives that are meaningful enough to find their way into an AP U.S. History class,” Donovan said.

In addition, the class salutatorian, Rachel Sabbadini, reflected on the class’s growth over the past four years. Persevering through challenges like distance learning and new safety requirements have brought them together, she said.

“The obstacles we have been presented with, especially in these past two years, have made us more resilient and connected than ever,” Sabbadini said. “Together we have learned how to conquer unfamiliar territory and are therefore now more prepared for the next chapter of our life.”

Also among the commencement exercises was the presentation of the class gift, a media backdrop for photos, and a reading from graduate and poet laureate Joanna Chomowicz.

Health teacher Dane Lewis gave the commencement address, fielding laughter from the crowd of graduates and loved ones. Lewis is a 1977 graduate of Stonington High and has been teaching at the school for 26 years. He is retiring with the conclusion of the school year.

Between jokes, Lewis shared advice for the graduates as they embark on their future.

“No generation has been better prepared to face the difficult challenges that lie ahead,” he said. “I'll be enjoying bingo and Jell-O and you'll be saving the planet.”

Hannah Turner, right, and Katya Torruella hug as they find each other while they and their fellow graduates begin to gather in the gymnasium before their graduation ceremony Friday, June 18, 2021, at Stonington High School.   (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Hannah Turner, right, and Katya Torruella hug as they find each other while they and their fellow graduates begin to gather in the gymnasium before their graduation ceremony Friday, June 18, 2021, at Stonington High School. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Photo gallery

For a gallery of more photos from the graduation ceremony, click here.

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