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Grads Urged To Lead Change; Get By On Your Wits And Courage

Originally Posted: June 30, 2008

Aaron Boyd

Proud East Hampton graduates received their diplomas on a muggy Saturday afternoon. Photos by Aaron Boyd

Mother and daughter share the joy of accomplishment.

East Hampton - Just before 12 noon on Saturday, June 28, a crimson river flowed out from the hallowed halls of East Hampton High School, making its way across the parking lot and into a tent filled with proud parents and jubilant friends as 222 red-caped seniors filed towards the front of the audience and took their rightful place on either side of a lavish podium.

Following a rendition of the National Anthem, played by the High School Band and Orchestra, class president Hanna Riege welcomed the attendees, speaking about stepping out of one's comfort zone, a lesson she first learned while running for class office. Riege cautioned her classmates, telling them that stepping into the future required the gumption to leave their comfort zones, beginning new lives in college, the military or the workforce. One thing was certain, things would soon be changing, she said, wishing "Good luck and courage to all of you."

East Hampton High School Principal Cheryl Edholm outlined the keys to dealing with the approaching change, listing five factors necessary for any smooth transition: vision, skills, incentives, resources and a plan of action. Without vision, she counseled, there is confusion; without skills, anxiety; without incentives, resistance; without resources, frustration. Trying to move forward without a plan is like running on a treadmill, she cautioned, so much work with little result. Edholm left her former students with sound, decisive advice, don't just abide change, she said, "Lead it."

Two rows of students marched from the high school entrance to a tent erected for the graduation ceremony.

Valedictorian Asalia Goldberg expounded on her
zest for life and hoped fellow students felt the same.

The senior chorus members sang Omnia Sol before salutatorian Gwendolen Akard gave her commencement address. Akard began with a quote she recalled from one of her teachers, "Be nice to people - you never know who might be a cop - or hot." In a more serious aside, she asked her fellow grads to remember how difficult social life can be and to carry themselves with humble dignity. Finally, she commanded them to "be brave" as they moved forward into their adult lives.

Valedictorian Asalia Goldberg quoted Albert Einstein in her opening remarks, saying, "There are two ways to live your life: as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is." Goldberg spoke eloquently about the miracles she had encountered while at East Hampton High School and the limitless wonder of the greater world they were all about to enter.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Raymond Gualtieri capped the line of speakers by reading from a list entitled "Things I've Learned," a fitting prose filled with quick bursts of wit and inspiration. "You can get by on charm for about 15 minutes, after that you better know something," he cautioned.

As the speakers finished, the seniors were called one-by-one to receive their diplomas. The students looped around the tent, shaking hands and greeting loved ones, then returned to their seats.

The senior class of 2008 was thereby graduated, set free into the world.

Graduating seniors sat before their teachers and loved ones on the bleachers under the tent in the shade of the mid-day sun.

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