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Greenwich High Grads Encouraged To Look Forward

GREENWICH, Conn. — A sea of anxious but smiling seniors clad in red and white gowns shuffled to their seats on the Cardinal Stadium’s green turf field Monday night to await their moment of triumph as 2011 graduates of Greenwich High School.

“The lyrics from their opening song set the stage, OK seniors help me out: I throw my hands up in the air sometimes,” Headmaster Chris Winters prompted, starting the lyrics to Taio Cruz’s song “Dynamite.”

“Saying AYO, gotta let go,” the graduates replied in unison.

“I want to celebrate and live my life,” said Winters.

“Saying AYO, baby let’s go,” the graduates sing-songed back.

“OK, not bad,” said Winters. “Baby, let’s go and let’s make it a great night.”

Speaker Brenda Friedler joined in the mood, joking that she was graduating with the students after 38 years as a guidance counselor and English teacher in the district. She encouraged the class members to close their eyes and remember the moment of graduation as a snapshot, more permanent than could be captured on a cell phone camera.

“According to the big book of graduation speakers, I should give you a message to take with you, and here it is … 'It is genuinely a thought by which I Live my life and giving this to you today is really one of the best gifts I have to offer,'” said Friedler, quoting the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Student speakers included Valedictorian Madeline More and Salutatorians Rebecca Schreff, Marina Kaneko, Samson Dealy, Laurel Jarombek and Jordana Cepelwicz, who offered up memories, inside jokes and hopes for the future.

For Superintendent Sidney Freund’s last graduation speech at Greenwich High School, he cautioned the students to “remain forever young but not forever immature.”

The 610 students presented their gift to the school: a new sign for the entrance at Hillside Road and Post Road. They also presented Winters with a wand to conduct the first song played when the school’s hard-fought Music Instructional Space and Auditorium project is completed.

Before diplomas were handed out and the graduates dispersed to hug parents and friends, Winters presented the class of 2011 with the “top 11 reasons” that made them a special class, including their diversity, academic achievements, athletic and arts participation, cleanliness and awards.

“The No. 1 reason why you are a special class: You are the class that came up with ultimate means for getting back at all the juniors for parking in your precious parking spots,” ended Winters, “How? By lobbying for the MISA project, you assured that parking for next year will be a total mess. Nice job!”

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