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Lyme-Old Lyme graduates told to enjoy their life journey

Old Lyme — Because they can put students into awkward situations, Lyme-Old Lyme High School banned public "promposals" this year. But as Principal James Wygonik pointed out in his speech at graduation Thursday night, the Class of 2017 is not one to back down from a challenge, or a good joke.

The 118 members of the graduating class laughed as Wygonik told the story of how about half of the class got together and collectively asked him to prom.

"In lieu of an uprising, they used it as fuel to strengthen the friendships and culture of our school," he said. "Because of who you are, and the culture you have fostered, our school became an even better place that day."

Interspersed with performances by the high school band and chorus, four student speakers, as well as Wygonik and class advisor and social studies teacher Brett Eckhart, reflected on their time at Lyme-Old Lyme.

Callie Kotzan, class president, opened the ceremony "in a 'Goodnight Moon' sort of way" by saying goodbye to some of the things she will miss about the school, from funny moments with classmates and teachers to the building itself.

"Regardless of how many goodbyes we say or tomorrow ... there will always be things that stay the same," she said. "Never lose that part of you, that shameless, unapologetic part of you, that child inside of you that yearns for adventure and excitement."

Honor essayist Rachel Hayward quoted Dr. Seuss' "Oh the Places You'll Go," a book her aunt told her to read as a child and live as an adult. She said that while she and her fellow graduates may find themselves alone and scared or making mistakes in life after college, they all will find success and "soar to new heights" in their fields.

Salutatorian Laura Wayland compared her high school experience to her dance career, working hard and pushing through pain to reach the point where she feels like she is flying. She said everyone had those moments, and it is those that will define their time at Lyme-Old Lyme.

Eckhart asked students to embrace their journey rather than focusing on the destination. He poked fun at them for being impatient as recently as waiting in line for the processional Thursday evening and reminded them that the journey is where relationships are developed.

Natalie Rugg, valedictorian, reminded her classmates that while they all look forward to their new futures, Old Lyme is the hometown that got them there.

"Though we will soon be going off to save the world, remember that Old Lyme will forever welcome you home," she said, laughing as she tried not to get too choked up. "Reserve this one day to revel together and embrace the place that has made you the brilliant person you are now."


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