FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Under picture-perfect skies, Fairfield Ludlowe High School valedictorian Emery Zeller Wallace told her 363 classmates on Thursday to thank their teachers, their families and especially their parents, the human alarm clocks in their lives.
“I know that at least I would have been late for school every morning,” she said to laughter from the hundreds who gathered for Ludlowe’s 11th annual commencement.
On a more serious note, Wallace encouraged the class of 2016 to remember what her dad always tells her when she looks to him for advice: “A wise man once said ‘nothing does nothing.’
“If you never take a risk, nothing will happen,” she said. “Success required attempting something.”
The graduates marched into Taft Stadium to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance,” their blue and white caps and gowns accented with the occasional neon boa or set of homemade antlers. Shortly after the ceremony started, several beach balls bounced among the graduates of Warner, Webster and Wright houses.
Commencement speaker Julie Wolfer, a Fairfield Ludlowe teacher who is retiring, offered similar words of advice to challenge themselves and relax.
“Have no regrets. It’s a waste of energy,” she told them. “What the future holds will fall into place. Go with the flow.”
Telling the graduates to follow their dreams, she said she felt like she was a part of the class of 2016.
“This is also my graduation after 36 years of teaching,” she said.
Salutatorian Elizabeth Mary Reidy said she believes her decision to not take an AP history course might be the reason she was standing before her class, making her first-ever public speech to such a large crowd.
She told her classmates to embrace whatever paths they’ve chosen — be it college, a gap year or a job — “even if we don’t know where they’re leading us yet.”
Greg Hatzis, Ludlowe’s headmaster, told the students he was proud of them and looked to them to make the world a better place.
“We need your ideas. We need your energy,” he said. “We need your best.”
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