(all photos and video credit: ATG Visuals)
Wilton High School held its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on Saturday, June 12. It was a remarkable moment for the graduates and the wider community, both as the capstone in the students’ academic careers in Wilton but also as an event celebrated almost mundanely — outside, maskless, together.
It marked a return to organized communal events in a post-pandemic world. The vision of a column of white- and blue-robed graduates snaking its way from the high school toward the traditional graduation site of Veterans Memorial Stadium and Fujitani Field (after a one-year hiatus and a Class of 2020 car parade graduation), ringed by stadium stands packed with family members, friends and WHS staff, was joyously normal.
GOOD Morning Wilton has published the texts of remarks delivered graduation speakers, including: WHS Student Body President Ben Kesselman, WHS Valedictorian Lily Mikita, Graduation Speaker Dr. Kristina Harvey, WHS principal Dr. Robert O’Donnell, and Wilton Public Schools superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith.
Below are other selected moments from the ceremony, as well as photos and video from the day, including the full event recorded on Wilton Education TV (WE-TV) and running on YouTube.
Recognition of Graduates Headed to U.S. Military Service
During the ceremony, O’Donnell and WHS assistant principal Dr. Amy Korn gave special mention to two members of the graduating class who will begin their U.S. military service after high school.
O’Donnell: “As we engage in our graduation ceremony, we have two special moments of recognition. We are proud to announce that we have two graduates from the class of 2021 who will be serving our country in the United States military.” [APPLAUSE]
Korn: “I call on all members of our school community and town of Wilton to celebrate and honor Wilton High School graduate Brandon Stella on his enlistment into the United States Army.” [APPLAUSE]. “Brandon has been a model citizen during his tenure at Wilton High School. Brandon expressed his desire to join the army early in his high school career. He worked hard to learn what the entrance requirements would be in order to achieve his goal. Brandon enlisted while still in high school and devoted time to this endeavor throughout this past school year. He is ready and eager to make this commitment and is looking forward to using his skills to proudly serve his country. Please join me and another round of applause and recognition for Brandon.” [APPLAUSE].
O’Donnell: “I call on all members of the school community and town of Wilton to celebrate and honor Wilton High School Class of 2021 graduate Kira Howard on her appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy.” [APPLAUSE] “Kira has achieved much success at Wilton high school. She took a challenging academic schedule, maintained a 3.9 GPA, and was a three-sport athlete where she received honors in all three sports. Kira was also selected for National Honor Society and recognized by her peers for her sportsmanship and her leadership. Kira, you are a model citizen, and we know that you will make our community proud and serve our country at the highest level. Please join me in a round of applause and recognition for Kira.”
Board of Education Chair Deborah Low
Wilton Board of Education Chair Deborah Low congratulated the graduating class before leading the presentation of diplomas to the students.
“Joy, excitement, celebration, accomplishment, and pride are the themes of this ceremony. There is great joy in gathering all together in this moment. We realize in ways not understood before the pandemic how special the simple act of sitting together on a field can be. There is excitement in looking forward to your future adventures and challenges. You will explore and chart new territory, unique to your passions and personality. There is celebration of the connections and relationships built through your years in the Wilton schools, the bonds of friendship, the sense of community and collaboration as a class and recognition and appreciation of your amazing dedicated teachers.
“There is a rightful sense of accomplishment in reflecting on the work effort and perseverance it took to reach today. We hope you feel pride in your triumphs; engaging in the classroom; sharing talents in art, music, and drama performances; competing on the athletic field; helping others through volunteering; and pursuing individual interests. And we hope you also feel pride in the times you overcame frustrations and even disappointments that came your way. You truly have earned your diplomas, so savor this wonderful day.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, the Wilton Public Schools staff, your proud families and friends, and the entire town of Wilton, congratulations, Class of 2021!
“So now let’s present those diplomas!”
Class of 2021 Class Secretary Tori DiRocco Presents the Class Gift
“Hello, Class of 2021 and guests! My name is Tori DiRocco, and I am honored to be presenting this year’s class gifts. This year, there will be two parts to our gift. First and foremost, we would like to make a donation to the custodial staff for their tireless efforts and hours they have dedicated to each and every one of us [APPLAUSE].
“After many suggestions to provide more outdoor seating, we are very happy to deliver. The second part of our class gift will be donating benches to the school that will be placed in the senior parking lot. This will be another place for students to have lunch and enjoy some fresh air. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped us raise funds over the past four years to make this possible. [APPLAUSE]
“After 13 short years of venturing through Wilton Public Schools with you all, I am sad to part, but I’m so excited to see all of the amazing ways we change the world. This class is, without a doubt, the most compassionate, outgoing, adaptable, and kind classes. These are all things we should never lose sight of as they will take us far in life.
“I would like to leave you all with these parting words: Life is too short to worry about a failed test, complain about a sunburn, or get caught up in yesterday’s worries. I urge you all to look and feel deeper, make your dreams a reality, chase every opportunity and enjoy every beautiful moment of your journey. And most of all, huge congratulations to the Class of 2021!”
Class President Neil Satsangi, Turning of the Tassels
“Thank you everyone for joining us here to celebrate the amazing Class of 2021. Before I continue further, I want to remind all of us that this would not have been possible without the hard work of our faculty and administration. So please join me in one final round of applause for all of their efforts.” [APPLAUSE]
“Today marks the beginning of a new journey for the Class of 2021, and what a class it is, let me tell you. Over the past four years and beyond I’ve met some of the brightest, kindest souls that anyone could have the privilege of knowing. I’m extremely humbled to be a part of this graduating class.
“I also want to give a big shout out to all the parents that are in the stands today. Without you, we would not be the graduates that you see before you today. You guys are the reason that we are here. Beyond just parents, I see many grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I’m sure you all were very excited when Dr. O’Donnell announced that there would not be a restriction on the number of seating at graduation.” [APPLAUSE] “Of course, my mom took that to mean that the entire country of India was invited.” [LAUGHTER]
“If I was to summarize my high school journey in one word, it would be ‘unpredictable.’ But honestly, that’s a good thing. Each year was very different than the previous one. And as we head into the next chapter of our lives, I advise all of you to embrace the unpredictability in your own journeys, head into the unknown, and don’t be afraid to take chances.
“[‘How I Met Your Mother’ character] Barney Stinson once said, ‘Whatever you do in this life is not legendary unless your friends are there to see it.’ So I’d like to leave you all with one parting thought: put down your phones and focus on what’s happening around you. Don’t look back and allow one or two bad grades to define your high school experience. Instead, focus on the relationships you built and the friendships you made. Focus on the memories you had and the experiences that took you all throughout the four years of high school. Even though each and every person in this class may not be your best friend, I am confident that the relationships we made over the past four years will carry us into the next chapter in our lives, and beyond.
“With that being said, I sincerely wish each and you each and every one of you, the very best. Congratulations, Class of 2021!” [APPLAUSE]
“Now, if you will all, please join me in the turning of the tassel to officially symbolize your graduation from Wilton High School. You may now change the tassel from right to left. Thank you everyone.” [APPLAUSE, CHEERS].