East Lyme High School graduates urged to 'take to the skies'
East Lyme — With a slight breeze to counteract the warmth of the sun, 275 seniors graduated from East Lyme High School Thursday night.
Hundreds of parents, siblings and friends gathered in folding chairs, lawn chairs and on the bleachers of the school's football field.
Bagpipes and drums played while the graduates received their diplomas during the 90-minute commencement ceremony. Graduate Caroline Thiede also received birthday wishes from her family.
Senior class President Kendall Roberts, one of four student speakers, said time passed before the class had a chance to watch it go.
"It still hasn't fully set in yet, and we will not feel it today either. With that fresh diploma in our hands, we will only be able to feel the excitement," she said. "But the nostalgia will come, and it will be then that it will settle in."
Roberts, dressed in a maroon robe to match the rest of her classmates, said they were not saying "goodbye" to each other, but rather "see you later."
Class Laureate Natalie Andrews encouraged her classmates to always make time for happiness. She closed her speech singing a rendition of "For Good" from the Broadway musical "Wicked." She received a standing ovation.
Academic scholar Robin Waterman, a Harry Potter fan, cast a spell on her classmates.
"Exultojuppitus!" she yelled. "In hopes that when it's time to hit the road, you take to the skies instead."
Other student speakers said they will always remember their friends, first dates, late-night runs to Stop & Shop for strawberry shortcake ingredients, and reading up on the Australian "Great Emu War" of 1932.
Of the new graduates, about 60 were recognized for earning about $86,000 in scholarships, according to RoseAnn Hardy and Cheryle Cassidy, co-chairs of the East Lyme Scholarship Association.
Superintendent Jeffrey Newton, who graduated from East Lyme 24 years ago, gave the class encouragement, making reference to the sports brand Nike.
He told the students to "just do it" when opportunities arise in their lives, to never close the door on new experiences, and to remain respectful and caring in all that they do.
Newton also quoted poet Maya Angelou, saying he hoped the new graduates would remember the poet's words when they meet new people and make new connections in their lives: They will forget what you said, and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
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