Ria Raniwala, Executive Board Vice President: “Hi everyone. I’m Ria and I’m here to introduce our teacher graduation speaker. Of the dozens of faculty at Wilton High School, finding one the entire graduating classic agreed on seemed to be an impossible task. After the past few weeks, however, the choice became obvious and I think we made a great one.
“Our next speaker is one of few staff members that has made an impact on the lives of every single one of us. On any given day, she can be found among stacks of scholarship and awards applications, ready to make someone’s week; transcripts that could determine a senior’s future; and at least a hundred questions from students, staff, and parents, all of which she puts her time into answering with warmth and with care. And somehow, by some magic, she still manages to find the energy to check in on students personally, asking after our families and our hobbies and cheering us on through it all. She has a genuine desire to see every single Wilton High School graduate succeed.
“And I hope I speak for all of us when I say we’ll put our everything into making her wish come true. She has been both an exceptional school counselor and a dear, dear friend to all, and we wish her the best in her retirement next year. Give it up for Mrs. Mangan.”
Sue Mangan, beloved guidance counselor, friend, advisor, and confidant to three decades of Wilton students: “Thank you Ria for that lovely introduction. Years ago, I sat in these bleachers when my three children and a daughter-in-law graduated, and never in a million years, imagine that I’d ever be one of the graduation speakers. To say that I am honored and humbled is an absolute understatement. I am so thrilled to be here today to speak to, and about the spectacular Class of 2022.
“These last four years have gone so fast. It seems like yesterday that we all watched you bright-eyed on your first day of high school, wondering how you got here, how you were ever going to find your way around, and if there really was a swimming pool or a fourth floor.
“In a blink of an eye, you went from preschoolers to high schoolers, ready to graduate and take on the world. You as a class have experienced more challenges than most, not only the last two and a half years with a pandemic, but the unimaginable losses your junior year. What has struck me the most though, is your resiliency. You supported each other, learned from each other, and have been there for each other. You have cried together, laughed together, and celebrated together.
“After the recent awards assembly, several presenters commented on how impressed they were with your class and how happy they were to see you clapping for each other and patting each other on the backs. You cared about each other, and it really showed.
“Al Carpinski, a former principal of Miller School, had a sign on his desk that said, ‘Character is how you act when no one else is looking.’ The six pillars of character remind me of your class. You are trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring, and good citizens. You have worked hard. You have made many friends. You’ve been involved in sports, music, arts, the theater, clubs, organizations, and involved in community organizations. You’ve tutored. You’ve worked and you’ve volunteered. You’ve been there for your family and friends. This is who you are.
“In school, we usually say that teachers are there to teach and students are there to learn, but I think it goes both ways. Your teachers did teach you, your counselors were there to help guide you. Administrators and staff members supported you. And I helped answer your questions. But you also taught us. And we learned from you. We felt pride in your accomplishments and shared your disappointments when things didn’t go your way. We are proud though that you were one of us and had the privilege of knowing you.
“A few years ago, a senior gave me this paperweight. It says, ‘Eat cake for breakfast.’ After I thanked her, I thought, Ooh, I definitely could eat cake for breakfast and maybe even some cookies. But later when I was out on my daily walk, I really thought about its deeper meaning — to live life to the fullest, remember to enjoy the small moments as well as the big ones, and don’t take life for granted.
“One of my mother’s favorite sayings to me was ‘Life is not fair.’ And I have said that way too many times to my own children. Life is not always fair or easy. It can have its share of disappointments and frustrations, but if you learn from those, it will make the good times and the victories even sweeter. In this fast-paced world, where everything is played out on social media, continue to go forward with grace, kindness, humility, and caring for one another. Live your life and be yourself. Keep your family and friends close to you.
“Thank you to the class of 2022 and love to all of you. You have touched my life in so many ways and I will always be grateful for that and for you. Congratulations to each of you and your families. No matter what your plans are for next year, go forth and live your dreams with your head held high, but take time to look back and thank your parents, the rest of your family, your teachers, counselors, custodians, and other staff members who have helped you get to this point. Go Blue White, and eat cake for breakfast.”
Sue is an absolute treasure, and she will be sorely missed at WHS – THANKS SUE – YOU’RE THE BEST!
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