On a breezy evening, more than 250 seniors from the Guilford High School (GHS) Class of 2017 crossed the stage to receive their diplomas before a cheering crowd of family, friends, and teachers.
The ceremony took place on June 15 on the Guilford Green. The event included a performance from GHS Voices senior members and speeches from selected students and faculty.
Speeches from students and faculty did not shy away from the challenges graduates will faces in the years ahead. Valedictorian Joshua Stern encouraged his fellow students to be passionate and courageous as they take on the next phase of their lives.
“I hope we be bold, as I do believe it will take dashingly courageous young human beings to heal this world,” he said. “I hope we bravely search for meaning in spite of the allure of apathy. I hope we are dauntless in realizing the complexities of our planet and wrestling with their uncertainty. I hope we dare to realize when we are wrong and change. And I hope we find the audacity to believe in something and fight for it.”
Salutatorian Emily Nolan urged her fellow graduates to not be burdened by numeric measures of success, but to take pride in everything they achieve collectively and as individuals.
“We should be less concerned about how we appear on paper, less distracted by societal standards of excellence, and more focused on who we want to be and where we want to go,” she said. “All of us have unique aspects of ourselves, which should define us and are much more important than any number or statistic. As a class, we have won countless championships, put on award-winning musicals, raised thousands of dollars for charitable causes, and made memories that will last us a lifetime. Today is a day when we get to celebrate these accomplishments.”
Of the 263 graduates, 217 seniors will attend four year colleges or universities, 21 seniors will attend two-year institutions, three seniors will attend technical/prep school programs, four seniors are joining the armed forces, and 18 seniors are either taking a gap year, traveling, are undecided, or are entering the work force after graduation.
Superintendent of Schools Paul Freeman offered optimism in light of a changing world in his speech. Looking out at the graduates, he said he is confident all GHS graduates are prepared for the next phase of their lives.
“Can I anticipate the world into which we are sending you?” he asked. “No I can’t. Will I look at the changes you create in the world and see them as magical? Yes I will. Am I worried about how well you have been prepared for that world? No I am not…I do not worry for you in the world, because I know we are placing that world into your very capable hands.”