GREENWICH -- Before the 2010 South Central High School graduates moved onto "bigger and better adventures" Sunday, valedictorian Stacey Shepherd gave her classmates some pearls of wisdom.
The 17-year-old girl told her fellow graduates not to postpone what they want, don't leave anything misunderstood, make sure the people you care about know it and make sure those same folks know how you really feel. Shepherd also thanked all the families and staff "for all the hard work they put into making this class shine."
"Their fingerprints will never fade from our lives. They have taught us educational and life lessons," she said.
Another student who spoke at the commencement ceremony, Robert Gannett, said his classmates should look inside their souls and ask themselves what type of person they want to be. He said everyone in the class needs to understand "how to live" -- "the first thing that we all must do before we try to live for real" -- and how to plan to treat other people they meet.
"It is important that we all figure out what it is going to mean to us now, because if we don't, we will waste the most precious gift and talent that we all share -- life itself," said Gannett, who had memorized his speech.
During the ceremony, Principal Denise Dilsaver honored Payton Oney, the 2010 state wrestling champion in the 135-pound division, by giving him a plaque honoring his accomplishment. A duplicate of the plaque will be hung below his picture on the athletic hall of fame in the school hallway.
Jeff Cook, the dean of students, and Dilsaver also honored various students who earned subject awards and other scholastic and achievement accolades.
Senior speaker Dan Davie said graduation isn't an observation of "a victory over high school, but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change." He said the ceremony is "a day of celebration as well as sorrow" since the seniors "will be entering a bright new world, starting to explore life on their own, taking chances and striving for success" as they leave behind their "wonderful friends, families and amazing teachers."