Westport resident Elizabeth Woodsons smile said she wasn't fazed by the heat as she received her high school diploma from Greens Farms Academy in Westport on Thursday morning.
Elizabeth was among 71 seniors to graduate from the academy. But before they went off into the world, class valedictorian Allison Kruk offered some words of wisdom.
"It is only when we recognize and celebrate our connection to our world that our high school diplomas become greater than a simple piece of paper," said Allison, an Easton resident who will attend Princeton in the fall.
Allison told her classmates that their academic success makes them no more special than anyone else. To drive her message home, she spoke of Albert Einstein and Nobel prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She said neither used his achievements to segregate himself from the rest of society.
As scholars, Allison said, she and her classmates have the "fantastic occasion to mold ourselves into whatever form we desire, allowing us to experience incredible personal growth." But as people, she said, they also "are obliged to maintain a social consciousness" of the world around them.
"We cannot afford to lock ourselves away in an ivory tower, separated from the beauty, diversity and challenges of society," she said. "Rather, in the spirit of true humanitarianism, with empathy, sincerity and compassion, we must utilize our extraordinary talents to affect positive change."
Commencement speaker Steven Kinzer, an author and award-winning foreign correspondent, told the graduates to "maintain your global engagement."
He also encouraged graduates not to settle for what they are comfortable and familiar with, but to keep themselves open to the possibility of change. Perhaps more importantly, he urged the students not to go through life being cynical.
"It's better to be naïve than to be cynical you don't get anything out of life by living a hard, tough life," Kinzer said. "Open yourself up to feelings, to spirituality, to the concepts of morality. In this way, you can go ahead and become the change you want to see in the world."
Did your child or someone you know graduate from Greens Farms Academy? What's next for him or her?
(Photo identification: From left to right are Head of School Janet Hartwell, Assistant Head Master Lynne Laukhuf, John Elmor, head of the Upper School, and Board of Trustees President Jill Birinyi)
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