BEACON FALLS — The Class of 2014 is out of the Woods.
About 170 Woodland Regional High School seniors took their final steps as high school students last Friday during graduation. For many, the past four years flew by.
“Four years went by so fast. I kind of can’t believe it still. I think it’s a great new beginning and opening up a new chapter in my life,” Woodland graduate Nate Taylor said.
Fellow graduate Rebecca Moscato added, “I can’t believe I came this far. It’s wild. I feel like I just got into freshman year.”
As the Class of 2014 sat in the sun-drenched courtyard, Woodland Principal Kurt Ogren congratulated the graduates on their many victories in and out of school and reminded them to continue striving for success.
“Our seniors have demonstrated a great deal of leadership in the classroom, on the athletic fields and in the community throughout their four years in the Woods.
Members of the Class of 2014 please continue to follow and exemplify the values and principles of the Woodland Way no matter where the road of life takes you. Continue a life of community service and always challenge yourself. Remain positive and see opportunity in every difficulty you may face. I am confident that you will all prove to be successful,” Ogren said.
Superintendent of Schools Tim James offered his own parting words of wisdom to the Class of 2014.
“Be positive, be kind and be good ambassadors for Woodland and Beacon Falls and Prospect,” James said.
Beacon Falls First Selectman Christopher Bielik’s advice to the graduates was to remember the good times they had at Woodland and not to settle.
“Be proud of achieving what you’ve gotten here to today already, but don’t be content with it. This is only a jumping-off point. You’ve got the rest of your lives to do greater things than you’ve been able to accomplish already today,” Bielik said.
Since Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield was out of town, Prospect Town Council Chairman Tom Galvin delivered the mayor’s perennial speech of “Congratulations.”
Salutatorian Salma Shitia urged her classmates to take the values they learned at Woodland with them wherever they go.
“Today we are here to celebrate the success of many and praise students for their perseverance. We’re also here to encourage students to bring these values with them wherever they may advance in life,” Shitia said.
Shitia said one of those values she will carry with her is being weird.
“Weird sounds bad because weird traditionally does have a negative connotation or meaning, and that’s understandable. However, what Woodland has taught me is that weird can be very, very, very good if you do it right,” Shitia said.
Shitia went on to give example of teachers and students who embodied the spirit of being weird, such as teacher Craig Skigen who got his toenails painted teal to support a student’s senior project.
Valedictorian Alexa Kiernan’s message to the class was that it will take hard work to set the graduates apart from others.
“People are not born special. They are not born perfect or gifted, and only a few are destined to be great. People are born to work, to achieve and to become special,” Kiernan said.
She told her fellow graduates that they have a lot of competition and to continue to work hard for what they want.
“Right now there are about 25,000 other high schools in America with graduating students, who have a lot of aspirations as all of us,” Kiernan said. “If we want to stand out and be special in whatever way it may be, we need to work harder than all of those other students graduating right now.”