WILMINGTON - The Twin Valley High School Class of 2014 invited three guest speakers to talk at Saturday's graduation ceremony, and each one reminded the class that life's most important lessons often happen outside of the classroom.
Guest speakers William Anton, Linda Hughes and Philip Moriarty, all former Twin Valley High School teachers and administrators, said that whatever waits beyond high school, it was important to grow as a human in society.
"Do your part," Moriarty told the class. "You are shortly going to belong to a group that has graduated from this building. Each member of that group did their part, just as you have. You showed up. You did your work. You got your diploma. You did your part, but it's just a start."
Moriarty talked about the hundreds of people who have graduated from Twin Valley through the years.
He talked about those who have gone on to be teachers, volunteer firefighters, members of the military and business people.
Each, Moriarty said, has played a role in their communities and he encouraged each graduate, as they move beyond Twin Valley, to discover what it is they must do.
"Stand on their shoulders," he said. "You can see farther, and more clearly because of them."
Twin Valley High School graduated 37 seniors at a commencement ceremony Saturday.
Anton, a former assistant principal, told the students how important it is to be kind as they move beyond Twin Valley.
He said he wanted to encourage the group to produce and not only consume, and to use their talents to create.
But he said above all else, he wanted the class to remember how important it is to be nice.
"Nothing else matters more," Anton said. "Not competence. Not your parents' contacts. Not the school you graduated from. When you meet another person they don't care where you're from. They don't care who your parents are, or whether you scored in the final game, or what you got on the final in English Four.
Hughes said the graduates who have worked so hard to arrive at commencement are now spreading out in all directions and she likened their lives to shards of glass in a kaleidoscope.
"Take the initiative to sustain beauty in your lives," said Hughes. "When challenges and joys come to you, hold them up to the light. And look inside. Marvel at what you see and what you can make of it."
Abigail Putnam, the class co-salutatorian, who spoke before all of the guest speakers, foreshadowed many of their themes, telling her classmates that what they learn inside and outside of the classroom will help form who they will become.
"As we leave this campus and move on to the next chapter of our lives we'll carry with us not only the book learning but also the life lessons you've taught us," she told her teachers. "We have all overcome many obstacles and challenges to get where are today. But look, we've made it. Today as we close the door on one chapter of our lives, and prepare for the next, I encourage you all to continue to challenge yourselves. Our lives are not defined by the challenges we face but rather by the way we overcome them."
Putnam told the class to try new things, to push themselves and not be afraid of challenges.
"Challenge yourselves. You'll get further if you challenge yourselves to go beyond your limits, rather than taking the easy path through things," she said. "Challenging yourself in all areas of your lives will give you more and greater opportunities to show the world what you're made of. Remember that you're young. This is your world. You're here and you matter. The world is waiting."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext.279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.