GREENWICH, Conn. – The sweltering 90-degree temperatures continued through Wednesday evening at Cardinal Stadium as Greenwich High graduates baked under the setting sun in their red and white caps and gowns.
The stadium bleachers were a blur of parents, family and friends fanning themselves with programs. On the field, members of the senior class patiently listened to speech after speech. They wore sunglasses, gulped water and fanned their faces – in between bouncing beach balls across the aisles. Greenwich Emergency Medical Services had ambulances on hand to provide relief for those affected by the heat.
Lee Woodruff, a CBS-TV reporter who lives in Rye, N.Y., was commencement speaker. Woodruff is the wife of former ABC news anchor Bob Woodruff and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which provides resources to injured service members, veterans and their families.
Woodruff is a New York Times bestselling author for her 2007 book, “In An Instant, A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing,” about her husband's recovery from a brain injury suffered while embedded with American troops in Iraq in 2006.
Members of the graduating class were moved by the Woodruffs' story, said Jennifer Lynch, Greenwich High School guidance counselor and senior class adviser.
Woodruff told the class that they might be among the first generation that would not be expected to reach the same financial success as their parents’ generation. She added that this may not be a bad thing. She encouraged the students to “be curious” and “do something you’re not dead serious about” in their futures.
“We can try to plan and prepare, but we can never predict,” she told the students.
Class Treasurer Jane Wissmann presented the school with a picnic table, $1,000 for the incoming class of 2016 and $1,000 scholarships to deserving classmates.
Before the graduates lined up to receive their diplomas, Headmaster Chris Winters told them the 12 reasons why they were a great class, including diversity, creativity, athleticism and being environmentally friendly. In addition, the class tied the world record for 16 separate sets of twins.
“No. 1: You gave up your parking spaces for PCBs, your fields for PCBs, your sports schedules for PCBs, but never your spirit. No PCBs can take that away,” Winters joked, referencing the soil and water testing that has been conducted at the high school over the past year when the chemical was found during a construction project.
Other speakers included Class President Martin Spencer Hyman; Class Vice President Noah Bardos; salutatory addresses by Ryota Ishkizuka, Samuel Prose and Westin Sibley; valedictory addresses by Warren Bein, Zayne Sibley and Michelle Socher; Class Secretary Elizabeth Markowitz; and Interim Superintendent Roger Lulow. Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty read the names of graduates.