Pilot, Redding, Conn. June 28, 2012
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
University of Michigan
Peter ‘Thacher’ Wastrom
thanks,” Taylor said.Chris Darrow and JustinMacDougall also madeannouncements to thefriends, family, and fac-ulty members present. Thefirst was that a memorialwill be put in the court-yard at Joel Barlow HighSchool in memory of RobSmuniewski, a member of the Class of 2011 who losthis life in an accident lastyear. Class funds will payfor the memorial to carryon his legacy, they said.Liam Baker was alsoon the mind of the twoboys. Liam passed awayin the eighth grade andwould have been part of the Class of 2012. “He ispresent in our hearts andthoughts today.” A momentof silence was held inmemory of the two boys.Continuing on with theceremony, commencementspeakers Henry Knightand Anne Dolan addressedtheir fellow classmates andthe 2012-13 Select Choirperformed.Dr. Bernard Josefsberg,superintendent of Easton,Redding and Region 9,completed his first year assuperintendent as the Classof 2012 completed theirlast year at Barlow.“On behalf of our teach-ers and parents, I hope thatwe have equipped you tofly high and land well.Most importantly, I hopethat we have equipped youto walk straight and uponsolid ground,” said Dr.Josefsberg. “I wish you agood walk — unspoiled byany thin soles, strait lacesor loose heels you mayexperience along the way.”Dressed in white capsand gowns, the 229 JoelBarlow High Schoolseniors accepted theirdiplomas from CathyGombos, Region 9 Boardof Education chair.Maurizio Viselli and NicoleSherwood, members of theClass of 2013, called outthe names of the seniorsas they walked across thestage.Senior class presidentDouglas Streat closedthe ceremony with part-ing remarks to his classand the Joel Barlow HighSchool Orchestra lead therecessional with
Pomp and Circumstance
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BLOW’ TO SUDEN
The Angell-Breault-StaleyAdvisory left the last meet-ing with balloons, dough-nuts, and Ramen Noodlessupposed to represent ourpast, present, and future.And the field hockey teamsang “Don’t Stop Believin”at the top of our lungs onevery single bus ride home.Let’s be honest, it doesn’t[get] any cheesier thanthat.I could stand up hereand reminisce forever,but my memories are notyours. While as a class wehave a number of commonexperiences, I can’t pos-sibly identify your individ-ual cheesy moment. It mayhave occurred on a playingfield or in a classroom. Itmay have involved a teach-er, a friend, or a stranger.But there is for certain atleast one thing over thepast four years that hasmade your face light up.And if middle schoolwas one grilled cheese andhigh school was two grilledcheeses, now we havethe chance to find a thirdgrilled cheese.Since freshman year,Barlow sustained us withlunches and knowledgeand experiences. But bynow, two grilled cheesesare just not enough! Weare ready for more optionsand greater autonomy. Weare ready to explore newthings and to find new rea-sons to smile.Just... don’t expect themto appear out of nowhere.Take charge. Pinpoint thethings that make you hap-piest, and incorporate theminto your life. Go to the gro-cery store, buy some breadand cheese, and make your-self as many grilled cheesesandwiches as you want.If you’re feeling adventur-ous, add tomatoes or baconor mustard or somethingelse entirely. Enjoy yoursandwich, and enjoy thelife you have ahead of you.Move forward. But occa-sionally, look back on highschool and embrace thecheesiness of it all.
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Rabbit!,” he admonished,“and keep it close wheneverthe tendency strikes you toform judgments too quickly.”Vintage JBudd, keeping us onour toes, keeping us guessing,keeping us cognizant. He is byno means the exception to therule, though he does exemplifyit: Our school hoard’s creativeteachers who constantly sur-prise us.This is the gift Joel BarlowHigh School has bestowedupon us, and the gift forwhich we must thank you:The freedom to be unexpect-ed. To be bold. To be brazen.To be audacious. Our teach-ers allowed us to be who weare, to explore who we maybecome, and to discern howexactly we may grow into themen and women we want tobe. The gift to which I referis not merely the informationwe’ve learned, but rather, theway in which we’ve learnedit. It is not mandated by ourcurriculum, nor does it mani-fest in the facts we’ve mem-orized, the equations we’vemanipulated, or the literaturewe’ve analyzed. Instead, thispresent, of which we are therecipients, arose in Mr. Huot’stangents, which were rarely, if ever, mathematically tangen-tial and in Mr. Eller’s, “Heylook! A squirrel!” moments,which never failed to impartwisdom pertinent to life as itshould be lived.So how may we use the giftof the unexpected, embodiedby our teachers, to impact theworld we now inhabit? Believeit or not, it’s possible thatthe wisdom we derive fromthe duck-rabbit conundrum isintegral to our success.Sooner than we anticipate, jobs applications will displacecollege applications, and life’sblunt edge will strike us withthe hefty force of reality. Adegree is now merely a pieceof paper scribed in fancy cal-ligraphy. Fifty-three percentof bachelor’s degree recipi-ents under the age of twenty-five languished without a jobthis year. The world is satu-rated with thousands of gradu-ates exposed to the plight of unemployment, waving theirdegrees in despair and ask-ing the world, “Why me?”But the question any employeror admissions officer will askis, “Why you?” And what adefining question that is! Yes!Why you? Why me? Why us?What can we do to differenti-ate ourselves?“Unexpectation.” Successis increasingly predicatedupon risk, creativity, and inno-vation. If you don’t believeme, consider Google’s hir-ing practices. Managementposes quirky questions to itsinterviewees to elicit inven-tive responses. Past applicantssolved the logistics of fittingan elephant inside of a refrig-erator while others devised azombie apocalypse evacua-tion plan for the city of SanFrancisco. So, Class of 2012,if you were shrunk to the sizeof a nickel and thrown intoa glass blender, how wouldyou get out before the bladesstarted to move? You havesixty seconds. GO. And if youmanage to answer in the nextsixty seconds, Google expectsyou to derive six additionalsolutions to the same problem.The point is, we can’t afford tobe generic if we hope to have ameaningful future. Instead, wemust risk being unexpected.Original. Imaginative.Anne Dolan once imag-ined, “What if the governmentbuilt massive playgrounds foradults to play on? Wouldn’tthat be awesome?” Isn’t thatwhat life should be? A junglegym! The exchange of ideasamong playmates! Rememberthat we build the playgrounditself, and the playful interac-tion which its existence neces-sitates, upon the scaffoldingof unadulterated imagination.Steve Jobs adopted this mind-set when he advised, “Yourwork is going to fill a largepart of your life, and the onlyway to be truly satisfied is todo what you believe is greatwork. And the only way todo great work is to love whatyou do.” YES! What if weall loved what we did? Theremust be more to chase in thisworld than comfort. Maybe, just maybe, if we inform ourwork with insatiable passionand an open mind, our imagi-nations will sneak up on usin mysterious and unexpectedways. And perhaps, if we areunexpected in our pursuit of passion, our passion will beunexpected in its pursuit of us.Calvin and Hobbes epito-mizes “unexpectation.” Thecomic strip’s profound insightsexplore the wisdom of Calvin,a cunning six-year old boy,and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes.One strip I find particularlyapplicable to today. In the firstpanel, Calvin props himself against a tree, his eyes glazedby indifference and his armscrossed with apathy. Hobbesasks, “What are you doing?” towhich Calvin responds, “Beingcool.” Hobbes observes, asonly an animate stuffed ani-mal can, “You look more likeyou’re being bored.” Calvinextrapolates, “The worldbores you when you’re cool.”Hobbes adopts a pensive stare.He takes a leave of momentaryabsence and returns wearinga sombrero. He sidles up toCalvin, points to his sombrero,and exclaims, “Now we canboth be cool!” Calvin rolls hiseyes and replies in indignation,“A sombrero? Are you crazy?Cool people don’t wear som-breros.” Hobbes traipses off in dismay, but leaves us withthis nugget of wisdom: “Whatfun is it being cool if you can’twear a sombrero?” And really,isn’t he right? If we cannotmeld work and play into a funand challenging hybrid of thetwo, then why must we attainan education, a degree, anda job?So in closing, I leave youwith one charge: Find yoursombrero, Class of 2012. Stayhungry. Stay bold. Stay unpre-dictable. Do not settle for sta-bility: Take risks, even theones that may be foolish orembarrassing.A world devoid of som-breros is a world that casu-ally accepts boredom andinevitably adopts indifference.Many years ago, in elementaryschool, I was bored, and I saidso. My mom replied, “No,you’re not! Boredom doesn’texist in this world. Stop whin-ing.” Do not let the parasiteof stagnation infect your life:Stoke your imagination andprod the innovation that slum-bers amidst us all. Be uncon-ventional. Be unexpected. Beyou. The fiesta of our firstreunion awaits us, Class of 2012. Don’t forget your som-brero.
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Barlow seniors march into the O’NeillCenter. Once inside, Alexandra Benderreacts to a speaker’s words while VeroniaKarp shakes hands with Cathy Gombos,Region 9 board chair.