While many new Plainville High School graduates are destined to go far and wide, speakers at the Tuesday, June 18 commencement ceremony urged them never to forget their hometown, and to remain true to themselves.
Town Councilor Jesse Gnazzo, whose son Benjamin was among the 2019 graduates, said he was once one of those who wished to leave Plainville after graduating. But no matter where he went, the town was always “home.”
"No matter where you are in this world, whatever your situation is, you'll always have a community, a family and a home right here in Plainville," Gnazzo said.
Superintendent of Schools Maureen Brummett said in speaking with Principal Carl Johnson about his exit interviews with seniors, that many students said they will miss PHS and the positive relationships they had with their teachers.
“I guess the quote 'Once a Blue Devil, always a Blue Devil,' applies to all of us this evening," said Brummett, who will soon leave her post to become superintendent of Newington schools.
Brummett said what stood out about her final graduating class at PHS wasn’t just its academic achievements, but its spirit of volunteerism. The seniors devoted time to House of Heroes, the Plainville Food Pantry and to local churches.
"Never lose your curiosity and continue to be the kind, caring and wonderful people that you already are," Brummett told the graduates.
Harkening to the songs she played in her early morning phone messages to households announcing snow days, Brummett left the stage to Elton John’s “Your Song,” saying its final line sums up how she feels about the class: “How wonderful life is while you're in the world.”
Rather than speak about her own experiences, valedictorian Rachel Parsons touched on what her classmates said when prompted to answer a few questions by their English teacher.
When asked to share what memories stayed with them through their time in Plainville schools, many mentioned the mile run.
"Looking at all those miles we ran out in muddy fields and freezing weather, it is hard to say that many of us would call it our favorite memory,” Parsons said. “But we did it together and that's what made it bearable. And that's how we survived these last 12 years of school, by finding people that made daunting and stressful tasks bearable.
“So I guess the best advice I can give now is to find those people who make running a mile easier and avoid the people who will slow you down.”
Salutatorian Daniel Szymula urged his classmates to follow their heart.
"Time and time again, someone will say or do something that will make you question if what you thought was right was actually wrong, and that's a scary thing – I know,” Szymula said. “But once you convince yourself (of) doing what's best for you, you can't let go of that affirmation. It's okay to be scared and it's okay to be unsure of yourself, you just can't give into it.”
Szymula spoke from experience. He changed his major after being accepted into every school he applied to; switching from molecular cell biology to music education. He said the decision was made “to follow in the footsteps of a very special band director here.”
"Even though I had a lot of potential to be successful, to make money and make a difference with the career in mind that I know I had prepared myself far more that I could have for music, I knew that I had to take the risk of throwing it away if it meant that I would live my life being happy with myself and my decision," Szymula said.
After speaking, he picked up his trumpet and joined the band in playing Santa's Parade by Tom Wallace.
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