Under blue skies, graduation speakers talked of hope, risk-taking and values at commencement exercises Thursday for the Darien High School Class of 2012.
An aversion to risk "can and should be overcome by anyone who wishes to live life to its fullest," said departing DHS Principal Dan Haron, who is leaving school administration to join his family's real estate business.
Haron said students should "embrace Mark Twain's warning that 20 years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did, and chances are you didn't do those things because you were afraid to take a risk."
He added that the risks he was suggesting students take were obviously not "those risks that provide immediate gratification," but rather "those that have a potential log-term payoff despite the possibility of a short-term setback."
Haron gave examples such as shy people putting themselves into social situations they'd find awkward but useful, people with ideas starting businesses and students choosing classes outside their comfort zone.
Haron spoke before a crowd of over 1,000 students, teachers, family and friends of the graduating seniors in the ceremony held on the school's football field.
Taking advantage of opportunities, even if there's some risk involved, was a theme that ran through both Principal Dan Haron's speech and those of Valedictorian William De Rocco and Salutatorian Amy Wang.
Wang quoted the White Queen in Alice Through The Looking Glass saying, "Why, sometimes I believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast," and urging Alice to do the same.
"Now is the time to have those high-flown goals, to be a romantic and dram of love, to dream of success, however you imagine it. [...]," Wang said. "Just remember that nothing is impossible, even green caterpillars smoking hookahs."
Hey grads: Start off the first day of the rest of your life by doing one great thing for your community:
De Rocco said:
"Looking out at the audience, I see the vast potential we have in 2012. I see artists. I see scientists. I see athletes. I see newscasters. I see musicians. I see future cult leaders.
"We are a grade rich with potential, and I do not want to see any of this potential to go untapped. You all have the ability to be extraordinary. That's something I never want you to forget. You can do it. We can do it. We arre already well on our way."
Board of Education Chairperson Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross challenged the students to use their education to explore the world off the beaten path, and she quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson saying, "Do not go where the path may lead. Instead go where there is no path, and leave a trail."
Schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone about core values."The core you've developed has been as readers and writers, as critical thinkers and problem solvers, as ethical decision-makers, as community servants," he said. After describing various challenges the students will face, he added, "The Darien High School diploma represents our confidence that you are prepared as capable and competent young men and women to address these challenges competently and thoughtfully."
Haron, in his speech, said, "I'm grateful to have worked in a town whose moral values, civic culture and social temperament are so closely aligned with my own. I'm grateful to have worked for a Board of Education composed of hard-working, dedicated volunteers who are bright, caring and responsive, and for superintendents who, after providing general guidelines and a clear vision, have respected my autonomy as a teacher and as school leader.
"I'm grateful for being able to work with a student body which collectively possesses those qualities that should make every parent or a teacher proud: kindness towards others, a sense of dignity, healthy but guarded skepticism, intellectual curiosity, appreciation for the gifts bestowed upon them and the understanding that such gifts come with responsibility."