Rutland High principal Bill Olsen told the school’s 177 graduating seniors on June 9 that he felt the class comprises people who like each other and people in general. They “like life,” he said in his farewell address to the young people, their friends and parents.
Graduating seniors Grace Schillinger and Anna Smiechowski both delivered honors addresses. In another year, they might have been valedictorian and salutatorian, but Rutland High no longer class ranks its students in an effort to minimize focusing on grade-points alone and sutdent competition. A student/staff committee selects graduation speakers from a list of honors-level graded students with a resume aligned with the district’s vision statement, and are willing to perform a live audition of he speech the would want to give.
note speaker for the evening was fellow Rutland graduate James McCaffrey, inductee into Vermont’s Sports Hall of Fame, now a London-based, senior Wells Fargo executive. He spoke on his failures, not his achievements, telling students to find something that each has a passion for, develop their own internal tenacity (“grit”), and create a network of friends with which to share their lives.
Mount. St. Joseph Academy graduated a class of 18 students the following day. Principal Sarah Fortier encouraged them to become the person they always wanted to be, make and cherish friends, help their parents, tackle their challenges, and not be a slave to the world of instant communication. She also encouraged them to believe God has a plan for each of them and that love is “the best part of being human.”