yanna Williams, president of Weaver High School's graduating Class of 2008, stood before her classmates Wednesday and offered advice for tackling the world after graduation.
"It won't matter if you're the prom queen or the quarterback of the football team or the biggest nerd," Williams said. "Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it."
With that, Williams echoed the theme of the night for those speaking before the 214 graduates receiving their diplomas at Central Connecticut State University's Welte Auditorium -- embrace your own strengths and, above all, follow your dreams.
Paul Stringer, principal of Weaver, who is retiring this year, said before the ceremony that this class was perhaps the most unified group he had seen in years. He also said it was one of the most accomplished, having been given approximately $1.3 million in scholarships and awards for continuing education.
"This is just one page in their lives," he said of the graduates. "There are many pages from this point on."
For Omarleen Richardson, one of the class' two salutatorians, there was no question that from here on out, with fewer adults to guide them, life was going to get tougher. Borrowing from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richardson told her class to blaze their own way forward.
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail," Richardson said, quoting Emerson.
Also giving speeches at the ceremony were co-salutatorian Micaelia Wright and valedictorian Ashantee Hyman. Wright struck a more colloquial note.
"We are graduating! Can you believe it?" Wright said. "We've been waiting four years for this!"
Mayor Eddie A. Perez and School Superintendent Steven Adamowski also spoke, both congratulating the class. The keynote address was given by Valentino Shumate, a graduate of Weaver's Class of 1982.
Among the diplomas awarded Wednesday was one for Dwight Turton, whose diploma was awarded posthumously. Turton died in 2006 of a rare heart condition. He was 17.
His twin brother, Dwayne Turton, also graduated Wednesday.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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