Commencement 2008: Rain only spurs enthusiasm of 133 Housatonic grads
FALLS VILLAGE â€” High school graduations are typically well-ordered affairs, but for the first time in recent memory, the June 18 Housatonic Valley Regional High School commencement exercises started late â€” 20 minutes late, to be precise.
Thatâ€™s because the event was set up as it usually is â€” outside on the lawn in front of the main building â€” but a sudden downpour threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings. About 75 umbrellas dotted the rented folding chairs in front of the schoolâ€™s entrance. Fifteen minutes before starting time, members of the school band started bring their dripping instruments inside.
Members of the Region One Board of Education, along with school administrators, were milling about inside the front entrance wondering what would become of the ceremony. At 6:33 p.m., three minutes after the scheduled start, Principal Gretchen Foster strode toward the front doors and announced to the administrators before going outside that, â€œWeâ€™re going into the auditorium.â€
As audience members filed in to escape the downpour, it soon became apparent that seating would have to be strictly limited. Faculty member Scott Fellows announced that only two representatives from each graduateâ€™s family would be given a seat, as has been the protocol in past years for indoor graduations. A couple of people in the auditorium could be heard shouting, â€œNo!â€
Then Foster, along with Region One Business Manager Sam Herrick and members of the maintenance staff, carried onto the stage the tarp-covered table holding the diplomas and the event got underway.
Valedictorian Stephanie Kearns urged her fellow graduates to â€œmake certain that you surround yourselves with people who believe in you,â€ while salutatorian Andrew Sadowski emphasized his new-found freedom from the pass system: â€œGraduation is no longer about the actual ceremony, but rather about having arrived at the point at which I no longer need a little piece of paper to go to the bathroom.â€
The commencement speaker, Torringtonâ€™s youthful Mayor Ryan Bingham, repeated the current political slogan of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and urged the graduates to â€œmake changeâ€ on as many levels as possible. Quoting Winston Churchill, he added, â€œCourage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.â€
There also were remarks from Region One Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain and student essayists Lindsey Hutzler and Erin Keane.
The schoolâ€™s concert band played â€œPomp and Circumstanceâ€ and the recessional march. Board of Education Chairman Judge Manning awarded the 133 diplomas.