Greenwich High class of 2014 celebrated at graduation

Greenwich High School graduates were in a festive mood last Thursday as the class of 2014 graduated and there were plenty of bubbles in the air for the festivities. –John Ferris Robben

Greenwich High School graduates were in a festive mood last Thursday as the class of 2014 graduated and there were plenty of bubbles in the air for the festivities. –John Ferris Robben

Greenwich High School bade farewell to its graduating class of 2014 on June 19. Family, teachers and classmates surrounded the 646 celebrating graduates during an outdoor ceremony held at Cardinal Stadium.

GHS Headmaster Christopher Winters led the program featuring the speeches from the class officials and school administrators as well as a few humorous remembrances of the years at the school all the students experienced, including having to go through the construction of the Music Instructional Space and Auditorium (MISA). Prior coverage and a slideshow of the event can be found here.

NFL executive and former member of the Greenwich Board of Selectmen Paul Hicks delivered the commencement speech, celebrating the students’ success, and urging them to remember the way they grew from the early grades of elementary school into the high school graduates they became. A GHS graduate himself, Mr. Hicks reflected on the powerful learning environment the school creates for the town’s youth.

“All of the children of the successful, dynamic and diverse people of this town placed in a challenging, sophisticated and resourceful environment to learn, to compete and to grow,” he said.

The class of 2014 is indeed a diverse one, hailing from 35 countries and speaking 21 different languages. Graduates overcame the challenges of the district, helping Greenwich Public Schools earn a place on the College Board AP District Honor Roll for the first time. The honor roll is reserved for districts that increase access to college-level course work while also increasing the number of students who earn a score of 3 or higher on the AP exams. Mr. Winters announced that the class of 2014 participated in 1,777 AP classes, a record for GHS.

Class valedictorian Fiona Young shared some of the mementos she kept during her journey through the district, including a T-shirt from the senior’s “SRO: A Series of Un14ate Events” show earlier in the year, and a copy of The Little Prince, a book she became familiar with in her ninth grade French class. Reflecting on the literary classic, Fiona reminded the class of 2014 where they found the strength to reach this important milestone.

“We were never afraid to fall because our families, friends, teachers and mentors sitting to the left and the right of you today were there to catch you and put you back up on your feet,” she said.

Class salutatorians Molly Plissner, Alexandra Small and Elisa Martinez addressed their peers as well, offering motivation for the tasks that lay ahead of them. Students thanked their teachers for creating a valuable learning environment, recognizing the way that GHS had impacted their lives.

“The discipline, determination and self-motivation with which we approach our studies and extracurricular activites will permit us to be successful,” Alexandra said. “We are all leaving Greenwich High School having mastered the core body of knowledge, but most importantly we are all entering the next phase of our lives with a passion, whether it’s for the arts, athletics or academics.”

Class president Henry Ricciardi, who spent the last year contributing to the Post’s Growing Up Greenwich column, lauded the strength of the GHS community, which has persevered through tragedy and turmoil. Henry alluded specifically to Bart Palosz, a sophomore who committed suicide after the first day of class. Following his death, students rallied together to create a support system for students suffering from bullying, reflecting the student body’s desire to protect their own and prevent further tragedy.

Superintendent William McKersie urged the graduates to make that desire to help others apart of their personal identity as they move on into the world beyond Greenwich High School.

“Class of 2014, I challenge you. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, please be known for caring and compassion. Find your source arguments and touchstones for why caring and compassion are so essential to human existence … our nation needs your leadership, conducted with care and compassion. Be peace, find peace, make peace,” Dr. McKersie, who recently signed a new contract with the district, said. “We are all stronger for your success and like promised, go well class of 2014, congratulations.”

MISA continued to be a source of humor as class secretary Isaiah Nins bestowed three hard hats upon Mr. Winters as a part of the class gift. The hats symbolized the years seniors spent struggling to park on the school’s campus during the still ongoing construction. Empathizing with his now former students, Dr. Winters proudly donned all-three hats and joined in on the joke.

“Yes, I did feel your pain, every day … as I pulled into my reserved spot, right next to the building,” he teased before reminding them,“There is always the opportunity to make life better for oneself, and for others.

The humor fell in line with the relaxed tone of the evening, contrasting the powerful emotions and anxieties that come along with such a milestone. Having completed four years of vigorous coursework and the even greater challenge of coming of age, the graduates of GHS had certainly earned the celebration.

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