By SHERIDAN ROY
Plainville High School celebrated the achievements of the graduating Class of 2019 during commencement exercises on Tuesday, June 18.
The event was moved indoors due to rain, but students’ spirits were not dampened.
“This is an amazing group of students,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Maureen Brummett. She noted their achievements in academics and athletics, along with their overall kindness, passion and volunteerism. “You all have so much to give to the world.”
Valedictorian Rachel Parsons addressed her fellow students, and admitted she was somewhat reluctant.
“I don’t know what it’s like in the real world any better than my peers,” she said. When she needed support and guidance in writing her speech, she turned to her English teacher, who made a fun class assignment out of it. Her teacher wrote topics on large cards, and had each student respond to the topic. “My speech includes what my classmates would say.”
Three of the cards asked students to share memories of elementary school, middle school ,and high school. One response came back in all three categories: the mile run.
“We did the mile run together, and that’s what made it bearable,” said Parsons. She encouraged students to stick together in life to make it through the rough times. “Find those people who make running the mile easier, and avoid those who slow you down.”
Parsons said dreams make individuals unique, and told peers not to settle for anything less than their dreams.
That piece of advice is something salutatorian Daniel Szymula took to heart. He shared his story with peers about a last-minute change to his desired major, and his struggle to justify his decision.
Szymula originally applied to schools anticipating to go into biology. It wasn’t until February of this year he decided to go into music education instead.
“I kept trying to justify my decision. Suddenly I had a lot of work to do,” said Szymula. “I made the decision to always put happiness first. It’s worth the risk.”
He said he only has one lifetime, and it would be ridiculous not to spend it doing something that makes him happy.
“I loved both science and music, but music is the one thing I can do to no end and not get bored,” he said. Szymula ran into obstacles when he made his decision to switch majors, some in the form of people saying he wasn’t good enough. “All we have to do is prove them wrong. Doing what makes you happy is the right thing to do, and it’s not selfish to do what you love.”
Students’ smiles could not be hindered during and leading up to the ceremony as they reflected on what it took for them to arrive to that moment.
“I can’t believe I actually made it,” said one student, Yaznery Rodriguez-Hernandez. She was graduating one year before she anticipated. “I’m supposed to be a junior. But, I pushed myself to an extent to be successful.”
Rodriguez-Hernandez will take with her the support from her peers that helped her keep going, and she will leave behind the voice that held her back and tried to slow her down.
Damian Felix, another graduating senior, said he was just happy to be at the point he was.
“I’ll definitely bring with me the memories I’ve made with friends at PHS,” said Felix. “I’d leave behind any negativity—any of the negative people.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.
More coverage of the Class of 2019