WESTPORT, Conn. — One door closed and another one opened Friday for the 463 Staples High School seniors who received their diplomas.
Class valedictorian Madeline Seidman — the first female valedictorian since 2008 — entertained her classmates as well as the hundreds of parents and family members in the audience with her witty valedictory speech.
“I’m so excited for our 20th reunion: I won’t be able to recognize half of you. That’s because I don’t know half of you now because I’ve been living under a pile of books for the past four years,” she said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “But even the rest of you will have gotten some form of cosmetic surgery [by then].
“Some of you will be doctors, and lawyers and computer hackers,” she joked. “And at least three of you will be in the Irish mafia — that is a statistical fact from a study conducted by my uncle Sean.”
After warming the crowd up, Seidman — who will attend Williams College in the fall — offered some serious words of wisdom.
“As you leave Staples High School, I hope you will seek out people who will inspire you, support you, question you and encourage you to be your best self,” she said. “As students from Westport, we have a head-start on finding these people because we’ve had so many teachers who fit this profile perfectly.”
Graduates also heard encouraging words from Principal John Dodig and Superintendent Elliott Landon.
"I look at you today and ask you to accept that you are special in that you have all of the tools required to make a significant change in American society," Dodig said.
Landon, too, lauded the graduates' achievements and encouraged them to make a positive impact.
"Never forget that it's so easy to matter and to make a difference. It's even easier not to matter, and easier to not make a difference," he said. "But if you choose not to try to make a difference, you will fail yourselves and all those who have faith and confidence in you."
Check back with us later for a graduation gallery.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.