BETHEL — With diplomas in hand and their tassels moved from the right side of their mortarboards to the left, 51 Telstar Regional High School seniors walked out of the gymnasium Friday evening.

The top three students in the Class of2014 urging their classmates to “persevere in the face of adversity” and to step out of their comfort zones.

Salutatorian Kathryn Coolidge said she learned a valuable lesson after her father passed away two years ago: Challenge yourself and start taking chances.

“Take a minute and think to yourself: If the world were to cease to exist tomorrow, would you be happy with how you lived, or would you think about the things you never did or said?” she asked. “I challenge you to start taking chances, because the truth is, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

“Instead of playing it safe, take a step outside of your comfort zone,” Coolidge said. “Don’t be afraid to try something new. Live your life how you want to live it.”

Coolidge said she has had to make a hard choice in recent months: attend a school closer to home or move out of state.

“If I decided to go to the University of Maine or the University of New England, I probably would see some familiar faces,” she said. “That is my comfort zone. However, I made the hard decision to go to the University of Connecticut, a school that is five hours away and has 40,000 kids that I don’t know.”

She told students to “try a new food, tell someone you love them, go sky diving and never leave things on a bad note. Most importantly, be happy and live without regret.”

Valedictorian Alyssa Brands reminded students that, “what we learned in school goes way beyond grades.”

“We learned a lot about who we are and who we want to be,” Brands said, “and every battle we faced made us stronger and wiser. That’s life: learning to take the good with the bad.

“We may have had to fail a few tests to realize that, yes, studying is important,” Brands continued. “We may have had to get a few speeding tickets to become safer drivers. We may have had to have our hearts broken to finally find the right person, and we may have had to miss our family to learn to truly appreciate our time with them. We’re still young. We will struggle, and we will fail, but we will make it through and become better people because of it.”

Brands later thanked the towns of SAD 44 for their help in fundraising, the teachers and staff for “practically being our second parents,” the coaches for providing her “with some of the most life-altering advice I’ve received,” and lastly, her classmates, who she said “accepted me with open arms when I moved here in seventh grade.”

Samantha Corriveau, who graduated with third honors, said adversity is something each student has had to face throughout their four years at Telstar.

“We’ve faced things like depression, concussions, bullying or maybe something as small as a lack of motivation,” Corriveau said. “However, as a class, we’ve learned to help each other.”

Corriveau added that when it comes to adversity, it’s important to “accept adversity as something that is unavoidable,” to “be grateful for what we have” and to “make discoveries from your hardships.”

“This may seem crazy, but I look forward to facing adversity just so I can say that I conquered it,” Corriveau said.

The class sang “The Middle” by alternative rock band Jimmy Eat World. The chorus says, “You’re in the middle of the ride/everything, everything will be just fine/everything, everything will be all right.”

Before handing the students their diplomas, SAD 44 Superintendent David Murphy told students he was proud of them and they “worked hard for these diplomas.”

“One more thing,” Murphy said as he pulled his bright yellow tie forward. Near the bottom of the tie was the face of the popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants.

“When I first spoke to you when you were entering elementary school, I told you that you would only see me wear this SpongeBob SquarePants tie one more time: on the day you graduate,” Murphy said, smiling.

“You have fulfilled your promise,” he added, “and I have fulfilled mine.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.