Grads encouraged to 'cast sails and leave safe harbor'

New Milford High School's Class of 2010 stood Saturday "atop that far off place (they'd) never thought to be."

So described graduate Rachel Berger in her honor essay as she hearkened back to kindergarten years.

Three-hundred seventy-one received diplomas that day at the O'Neill Center on the campus of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

"Twenty years from now," Ms. Berger said to her classmates, quoting Mark Twain "you'll be more disappointed with the things you did not do than with the things you did. Cast sails and leave safe harbor."

This year's NMHS graduates are doing just that.

Some 85 percent of the class are going on to further education. They will attend colleges like Skidmore, Tufts, Vassar and Yale.

Some will go on to business degrees or vocational training.

Graduates like Stefanie Slagle have chosen careers in public service.

She will be off to Anna Maria College in Massachusetts to study fire science.

Others, like Lindsay Fortin, will stay closer to home. She will attend Western Connecticut State University and study graphic design.

These graduates go "prepared to meet life's challenge as young adults," said their principal, Greg Shugrue. "They go with parents' wishes to "follow (their) dreams, be fulfilled, and enjoy life," in the words of Ms. Fortin's mother, Brenda Rivardi.

With them, they are taking "a spirit of determination and resilience" that class salutatorian Dipanjan Saha saw in his class members for the three years he attended the school.

Valedictorian Eric Ho echoed his classmate's sentiments.

"I have gained an education," he said. "But more than that, I have reached tremendous personal growth."

It was a growth that the Class of 2010 might attribute to parents who have guided them, and classmates who have supported them.

That growth might also be credited in part to teachers such as "Ross Kellogg, Brock Putnam, and David Schaffer," Mr. Shugrue said, "who retire this year after having "given many years of extraordinary service... to the children of New Milford."

Captions for jump photos for S19

Norm Cummings/Spectrum

NMHS valedictorian Eric Ho, left, and classmates Olivia Taylor, Ellie Lamb and Brittany Klein listen to words of advice from class advisor Denise Duggan during Saturday's graduation ceremony in Danbury.