MONROE, Conn. — High school graduations are Ground Zero for in-jokes, recollections of four years of memorable people and humorous incidents. At Masuk High School’s graduation Tuesday evening, recollections went back far longer.
In Monroe, much of the Class of 2016 has been together since kindergarten, and, thinking back to "Cheers," it seems “everybody knows your name.”
To the point, Connecticut Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzel, a 1982 graduate of Masuk herself, was the featured speaker. She congratulated the graduates, saying, “I can’t wait to see what you do next.”
She remembered walking carefully at her graduation so “I don’t trip over my gown” and closed the circle by giving a shout out to two retiring teachers she had as a student. Her message was that the graduates all have heroes, and “you are tomorrow’s heroes.”
Class Valedictorian Amit Gupta gave a light-hearted talk that started with “much of what you’ve learned in high school is pretty useless,” and his leadership positions were “futile, meaningless and insignificant.”
But changing tone, he continued, imploring his classmates to “challenge everything you’ve been told,” and finished, citing actor Shia Leboeuf, with: “DO IT! JUST DO IT!”
Principal Joseph Kobza rose above the conventional wisdom of graduations, citing five thoughts former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz made in a similar situation:
- “Floss your teeth every day;”
- “Driving fast gets you nowhere sooner;”
- “People who are passionate in life are happier;”
- “Good things tend to come to people who work hard;” and
- “Embrace your loved ones at every opportunity.”
Schools Superintendent James Agostine began by noting that 1998, the year in which most of the graduates were born, was a year that nothing particularly memorable happened.
But he managed to cite a few, one of which was that that was the year of the last new "Seinfeld" episode, and exclaimed “I’ve been watching reruns the whole time you’ve been alive.”
He told the class, “You are the message to the future we will never see,” and concluded with his own recommendation that the graduates “be adaptable, creative and innovative.” He then wished the graduates success and a great summer vacation.
And, finally, the part of the evening the 299 graduates had waited for arrived — diplomas were awarded.