As more than 300 seniors waited to grab their diplomas and say farewell to New Canaan High School Tuesday evening, English and social studies teacher Robert Darken reminded them of one thing: how little they know.
"Graduates, now you are the ones descending through the clouds into a future of a million lights," he told them. "You can't know exactly what's in store for you. Embrace the fact that you don't know. Spend time with people who are different than you, ask questions, have new experiences."
Darken was the commencement speaker at the school's graduation ceremony Tuesday, which took place at Dunning Field in 80-degree weather.
He told the 319 seniors that admitting not to know something can take them further than pretending to know something they don't.
"In your career here at New Canaan High School you've achieved so much. You know so many things," Darken said. "Admitting that you don't know something can be terrifying. You might feel that an educated person is supposed to have more answers than questions. But I'd like to encourage you to embrace your own uncertainty, even though it's scary."
What also is daunting, senior Gita Abhiraman told her fellow graduates, is the fact that as they transition into the next phase of their lives, they will have to deal with much bigger things.
"It is a little scary that we are being launched into adulthood, equipped mostly with the ability to tweet and `Insta,' expected to vote and make decisions of greater importance than which froyo to eat and what pre-prom to go to," she said.
Abhiraman noted, however, that this year's graduates are made up of "remarkable talent and character," and she said they will make a great impact in the world.
"Among us are firefighters and EMTs, future Olympians and ambassadors to the U.N.," she said. "One of us will win a Tony Award. Many will save lives through service or discovery. I am sure of it."
Other speakers included Principal Bryan Luizzi, Superintendent of Schools Mary Kolek, Board of Education Chairman Hazel Hobbs, New Canaan First Selectman Robert Mallozzi, Class of 2014 President Sophia Curiale and four other seniors.
Curiale promised she and her fellow graduates would continue to make the New Canaan community proud of them.
"We will take all that we learned in the past four years and strive to make the world a better place," she said. "We will strive to improve not only our lives, but the lives of others, those who we know and love and those who we do not know."
Many seniors Tuesday were also looking back.
"It feels like it was almost yesterday when I started ninth grade," graduate John Turner said right before the ceremony. Read Full Article
Graduate Maddie Dijs called the commencement "a very bittersweet" day for high school seniors.
Sydney Trager, another graduate, agreed with Dijs.
"I'm probably going to miss my friends the most," she said, "but I will also just miss seeing everybody, because there are people here who I probably will never see again."
Though the transition is not easy, Luizzi reminded the graduates that their future is promising.
"You tweet, read books online, have instant access to current events, and your electronic social networking has shrunk the known world down to the size of an iPhone screen," he said. "With all of this, we are just at the threshold of the technology revolution, and in the years ahead your generation will take the technology of today to new and dizzying dimensions. And, judging by the amazing things you've accomplished here these last four years, I believe many of you will be leaders in these efforts."
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