For WRHS Class of 2012 its ‘yolo’ or nothing

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Members of Woodland Regional High School’s Class of 2012 celebrate at the conclusion of graduation Wednesday night at the school in Beacon Falls. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — On a night four years in the making, the Woodland Regional High School Class of 2012 marched out onto the school’s courtyard donned in black and gold gowns one last time together as high school students.

“We started here four short years ago as naive, scared freshmen,” said Class President Taylor Cummings as she addressed her fellow graduates Wednesday evening during the graduation ceremony.

The size of the school was intimidating and no one knew where their classes were the first week or which bathrooms were open, Cummings recalled. However, quickly enough, each graduate fell into a pattern and over the past four years the Class of 2012 grew together to achieve a synergy, she said. Each graduate brought their own qualities to the table, which alone are great, but together are amazing, she said.

From left, Woodland Class of 2012 President Taylor Cummings, Salutatorian Risa Kiernan, and Valedictorian Jessica Cormier Wednesday night during graduation at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –LUKE MARSHALL

“We have learned to work as a team, laugh as friends, and love each other like family,” Cummings said.

Before stepping down from the podium, Cummings offered her fellow graduates one final piece of advice.

“Where ever you go, go with all of your heart,” she said. “Never hesitate to follow your dreams. I know right now the future seems scary but I encourage you to look past this fear of the unknown and see the beauty and the possibility of it.”

Throughout the evening, the graduates were urged to embrace life and remember one simple term — yolo or you only live once.

“Our graduation means we are finally allowed to dip our fingers into a world of infinite possibilities,” Salutatorian Risa Kiernan said.

Kiernan told her fellow graduates to not let fear keep them from exploring the endless possibilities before them and let their passions pull and guide them to where they belong.

For the Class of 2012, the future before them is an uncertain one.

“We’re all entering a new stage of an unknown future,” Valedictorian Jessica Cormier said.

Woodland graduate Emily Wirsing receives her diploma from her advisor Mike Magas Wednesday night during graduation at the school in Beacon Falls. –LUKE MARSHALL

Being valedictorian comes with a stigma of perfection, Cormier said. Some may think that she has her life mapped out to the last detail, but, that’s not true, she said.

“Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have your life planned out perfectly,” Cormier said as she addressed her classmates. “I’m not exempt from the purpose of this speech. Its message is as much for me as it is for you. I must learn to yolo too.”

As Frank Arnold looked over the Class of 2012 the last time as their principal, he said he will remember the class as a group of young people committed to their school, concerned about their community and the world, and always wiling to help and support each other.

“In other words great ambassadors of the Woodland Way,” Arnold said.

Throughout the past year, it was the graduates who taught Arnold a valuable lesson.

As Arnold closed out his remarks, he implored the Class of 2012 to “find happiness in whatever you do and above and beyond everything else remember one important concept you taught me this year — yolo.”

Look for more graduation photos online later this afternoon.