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Stonington High School graduates 'dare greatly'

Stonington — With family and friends watching in the gymnasium and on the livestream in the auditorium, 169 graduating seniors were honored Friday for their academic talents, artistic prowess, athletic skills and, most importantly, their kindness.

Principal Mark Friese, after receiving the Class of 2017 gift of a multi-use sport net for the gym, said the class's high standard of kindness and empathy is the real impact they will leave on the school.

"You are one of the kindest groups we have seen here at SHS," he said. "I cannot think of a time in my life where the need for kindness has been more critical."

In her address to the audience, salutatorian Sara Wrótniak equated the experience of growing up to a piece of art. Some take to life very meticulously, like she once did as a child, while others take a handful of crayons and scribble furiously, filling the page with color.

Friday's graduation completes the sketch of life, she said, and now they have their chance to color it in.

Valedictorian Heather Boucher used her hiking trips to give three pieces of advice to her departing classmates, drawing from memories backpacking in New Hampshire and Alaska. As they embark on new adventures, she told them to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, persevere through the tough times and never let fear become a barrier.

The skills that led her to success on real mountains, she said, can help with others' figurative mountains.

Foreign language teacher Lea Graner Kennedy, chosen as the keynote speaker, referenced "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in asking graduates to find happiness, care for others and the Earth, and stand up for what is right, regardless of what the critics might say.

"Today's speech is a call to action," she said. "It's a call to live with intention, a call to seek out your passion, and dare greatly."


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