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Westport Grads Leap Toward the Future

WESTPORT, Conn. – Rachel Weinstein beamed with excitement Wednesday afternoon, moments before receiving her high school diploma. As she slowly approached the stage, Rachel cheered and clapped as the names of classmates before her were called. When her name was finally called, her classmates returned the favor.

Weinstein was one of the 469 students who crossed the stage and moved from student to alumni during Staples High School's 124th graduation ceremony. More than 3,000 family and friends filled the school's Field House for the occasion.

Class Valedictorian and MIT-bound graduate Eric Lubin headlined the event and took the opportunity to praise his accomplished classmates in his valedictory address, citing Siemens and Intel semifinalists, athletes, National Merit finalists, certified EMTs, founders and broadcasters of Staples Television Network, Inklings staff members, military-bound students and others.

"I believe that we, the Class of 2011 — the next generation of young and brilliant minds — are fully capable of righting the wrongs around us," Lubin said. "We can change our world to a place where oil is no longer a necessity, where we are no longer responsible for the deterioration of the ozone and where everyone has access to fresh water."

As Lubin highlighted the achievements of the class members, he credited the education they received at Staples. Among the diverse body of students, Lubin said he can see the next Mark Zuckerberg, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, George Washington, Harriet Tubman and Leonardo da Vinci.

Praise for the graduates continued with speeches from Staples Principal John Dodig and Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon . Dodig gushed over the students he has come to know over the past four years, saying they are the reason "I go home with a smile on my face every night."

“You are the reason I love my job and remain being a high school principal. I thank you for every day you’ve shared with us for four years and hope you, at some point in the future, find a profession that’s as satisfying and joyful as this one has been for me,” Dodig told the graduates. “I love you and wish you good fortune.”

Landon, who came to Westport 12 years ago — when the graduates were entering first grade — said he has had the pleasure of watching the students grow. Sounding like a proud grandfather, Landon told the students he had faith in them all.

Graduate Aidan Orly, who is taking a year to travel before heading to Hamilton College in upstate New York, said it's "weird" knowing high school is over. However, he said he's ready to begin the next chapter of his life, which includes working on a watermelon farm in Australia in November for two months.

Nicole Brill , who is off to Bates College in Maine, said she, too, feels ready to move on but will miss Staples. "I think what I'm going to miss most is being with my friends who I've grown up with," said Brill, who is considering a career in teaching.

Did your son or daughter graduate on Wednesday? Tell us what he or she is planning for the fall. For more graduation photos, click here .

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