Editor's note: Here's the prepared text of Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross' speech at Thursday's commencement exercises:
Good Afternoon, our high school seniors, administrators, faculty, parents, family, and friends, on behalf of my fellow Darien Board of Education members, we wish you the Class of 2012, our deepest congratulations on your graduation from Darien High School.
It is an honor to stand before you on this beautiful afternoon, in our stadium, where many of your athletic accomplishments have been celebrated. We gather here not only to mark the academic achievements of the Class of 2012, but also to acknowledge the myriad of people who have contributed to helping you create the path that you are embarking on today.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
The Darien Board of Education’s main goal is that schools exist for children and that is exemplified as we reflect on everyone who has made this day possible.
The community and the schools
The community of Darien has embraced the Board’s goal and continues to show tremendous support to our schools. Education is the most important tenet in our town and this is reinforced every May through the financial commitment that is made not only to the ‘bricks and mortar”, but ultimately to the students of our community.
Our administration is led by our superintendent of schools; Dr. Stephen Falcone whose student-centered vision embodies the board’s goal and who has the uncanny ability to stay calm in any situation. Our assistant superintendents, Dr. Judith Pandolfo and Mr. Matthew Byrnes not only challenge each other professionally, but implement the board’s goal and Dr. Falcone’s vision, with results that are seen in our classrooms every day.
Our entire academic community of the Darien Public schools played a crucial role in the success of all of the students who are beginning their journey today. From our elementary schools, where our graduates were first introduced to our academic community, to our Blue Ribbon Middlesex Middle School which set a team foundation for success, your teachers, coaches, support staff and administrators at each of these schools have played a significant role in helping you discover your path.
Finally, to all of the dedicated teachers and staff at Darien High School as well as our administrative team, our now retired Athletic Director Mr. John Keleher, our new Athletic Director Mr. Mike Sullivan, our Assistant Principals, Mrs. Ellen Dunn, Mrs. Ellen Sparks, and Mr. Doug Rubin.
Good-bye, Dan Haron
A poignant thank you is extended to our high school Principal Mr. Dan Haron, who we will miss as he, too, embarks upon a new trail. Many of the current Board of Education had the great pleasure of hiring Mr. Haron as the new principal of Darien High School in April 2007. At that time, Superintendent Don Fiftal wrote about Mr. Haron,
“He rose through the ranks at the high school and has been highly respected for his academic philosophy and teaching abilities coupled with an abiding belief in educating the whole child.”
His dedication, values, and high academic standards have helped Darien High School reach a new pinnacle of success. We will always be incredibly grateful for how high he has raised the bar at Darien High School, not only academically for our children, but also morally.
Mr. Haron, you leave us with big shoes to fill, but you also leave having accomplished a goal you only recently set for yourself, you depart as the reigning Dancing with the Teachers Champion. The Darien community and the Board of Education wish you and your family much happiness and success as you leave the Darien family to take care of your own.
Thank you, parents
Parents and guardians, you entrusted us to educate your children, not just academically, but holistically by challenging them and producing successful, mature adults who are ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives. Parents always have the toughest job in supporting their children as they are finding their path. The hard work and struggles are rewarded by the extraordinary path your child will begin today.
To the Class of 2012, you have accomplished much in your years at Darien High School. Your community, family, and school are very proud of your remarkable achievements. You have been supported throughout your years in Darien to follow your path. There will be times were you will deviate from the path, but the foundation that has been set in Darien will always be your roadmap to your future.
As I look out and see all of these incredibly proud parents and family members I would like to add a corollary from Ellen DeGeneres to Mr. Emerson’s quote:
Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else's path unless you are in the woods, you are lost, and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.
Congratulations, Darien High School Class of 2012.
Editor's note: This article originally was posted at 12:24 p.m. The time stamp was changed for layout purposes on the Home page of Darien Patch.