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On June 14, graduates of the GHS Class of 2019 receive their diplomas at the commencement ceremony on the Guilford Green. (Photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Before a crowd of cheering family and friends, 265 Guilford High School (GHS) students walked across the stage on the Guilford Green to receive their diplomas on June 14.
Of the Class of 2019 graduates, 90 percent will pursue some form of post-secondary education: 226 seniors will attend four-year colleges or universities, 13 seniors will pursue their studies at two-year institutions, and three seniors will attend technical/prep school programs. Within the graduating class, four seniors will join the armed forces and 19 seniors will either travel, take a gap year, go directly into the work force, or are undecided.
The class valedictorian is Katherine Hooker, who will attend the University of Connecticut in the fall. In her graduation ceremony speech, she encouraged all her fellow graduates to keep asking questions and to keep learning.
“The world is not designed in a way were things are handed to us,” she said. “It’s up to us to seek out new things. I am sure I am not alone in arguing that we all have seen only so much of the world. There are so many diverse cultures, people, and places that we have yet to see and these experiences will remain untapped unless we take action – join a club, march for what you believe in, be adventurous, and study abroad.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Freeman also spoke to the need to continue learning and explore, but also cautioned graduates against being swept up in a world dominated by information overload and multi-tasking. He said graduates need to find their “main thing”.
“Learn what is important to you, and know that learning that is no easy task,” he said. “The important question here is not ‘What’, but ‘Why’. In picking your main thing, what you do is far less important than knowing why you do it. Having picked a main thing, know it and hold onto it and grow it. Stick with it. Persevere, and do not allow your main thing with to be diluted by other good ideas. There will be lots of good ideas in your life, lots of distractions that compete for your time and your attention. Trust that others will do good work as well - do not be afraid to engage with those people and with those ideas - but do not allow those ideas to dilute your main thing.”
Board of Education (BOE) Chair Bill Bloss also addressed the challenges graduates will face in the adult world they are poised to enter. He touched on the divisions within this nation and asked graduates to look at the single statute on the Guilford Green – the one dedicated to those Guilford residents who came together for a common, greater cause but ultimately lost their lives in the Civil War – and to learn a lesson from those names etched in stone.
“Graduates, you too will be called upon to do something for a righteous cause, one that will tie us together instead of pulling us apart,” he said. “It may be to break the modern-day chains of prejudice and unequal opportunity; it may be to bring enlightenment to a world that too often stubbornly denies basic truths; it may be to act out of patriotism to protect freedom. When that call comes, no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where your grandparents came from, answer it. Answer it along with all who are willing to join, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where their grandparents came from. Answer it with courage and strength and wisdom. Answer it because we share far more than we don’t. And finally remember this: we are immensely and forever proud of who you have been, who you are, and who you have yet to be.”
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