As excitement starts to build in Wilton for this weekend’s Wilton High School graduation, the week will be filled with events and to-dos for the members of the Class of 2020: return textbooks–check; receive cap and gown–check; begin walk down memory lane–check.
Everything has been part of a highly choreographed plan executed by school teachers and administrators, the WHS PTSA, and a team of volunteer parents on the PGP 2020 committee who have been planning for this time for the last five years.
But one element of the week took almost everyone by surprise last Friday, when almost three dozen signs with congratulatory wishes for the Class of 2020 suddenly appeared sprinkled throughout Wilton Center.
It was a small but mighty gesture to do something uplifting for a high school class that had seen its much-anticipated senior year transformed from one that should have been filled with memory-building times with friends to one of confinement, quarantine and disappointment instead.
The stealth plan to create and place the signs was executed by a group of seven dads of WHS seniors, who just wanted to give the entire class an uplifting bit of normalcy.
“The idea came about to make sure that there was a way to slide into graduation, where it wasn’t just, ‘coronavirus, quarantine, the town slightly opens up and then, bang, we have a graduation,” says Chris Hyzy, one of seven friends who were behind the surprise, along with Joe Polito, Tom Costello, JR Sherman, Michael Walden, Mimmo Caratozzolo and Jeff Snyder. He said they were inspired by talking to some of the kids, and asking what would help them recapture a feeling of ‘normal’ in a not-normal time.
“It was more or less about feeling good about the upcoming week, what is about to happen–creating the end of a chapter of a long book of four years. And it doesn’t have to be just the day of graduation. When you read a book, you end it over the course of pages, not just the last page,” Hyzy said.
They decided to create the signs, with the class logo and the phrase, “The Best is Yet To Come.” The motivational phrase was a natural one to come from a group of people who have coached many of the graduating seniors over the last 10 years in sports ranging from football and baseball to swimming and water polo. The dads wanted to help the kids get into a frame of mind to appreciate where they’ve come from–and where they’re headed.
“You may think it’s just a cap and gown and get a diploma, but it actually symbolizes four years of hard work, dedication, trials and tribulations that you never expected. And if you could have a sign as you’re driving through town that says, ‘The best is yet to come, congratulations,’ a week up to it, you may smile. And if you smile, or you think it’s a thumbs up, or it’s curious for you and you didn’t know about it, that’s wonderful,” Hyzy said.
The seven men had fun putting their plan into action, sneaking into town on Saturday, in the early evening, to plant the signs at each entrance to Wilton Center and along River Rd. and Old Ridgefield Rd.
“We did it like a little joke thing. We had hard hats and we designed certain emblems on them just to be goofy. “Then we met for dinner afterward at Red Rooster,” Hyzy said, with a laugh. He also acknowledged a reporter’s observation that while the majority of events around graduation and celebrating the class have been planned by PGP or PTA volunteers who are moms, this one was executed by seven dads.
“It’s a great observation. Mostly, it’s the moms that do all the heavy lifting and we kind of wanted to do our own small part.”
He’s hoping that the small part might be something that ends up becoming a new tradition.
“We met at Red Rooster, I pulled the signs out and the [others] were like, ‘Wow, this will take us nine minutes.’ The joke was, it’ll take us nine minutes for what ends up being many, many years of fun. I started thinking about if a group of dads does this next year for 2021, that would be great. Because yes, it’s about these seniors, but it might be fun to see others ultimately do that for successive years, it would be kind of neat,” Hyzy said.