More than 200 of 's students said their final goodbye Monday night and have officially taken their first steps in the world as high school graduates.
In a commencement ceremony held at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, Windsor High School Principal Russell Sills said the event was meant to honor a "class with class." Sills praised the students by saying that they "raised the standard of what it means to be a Windsor Warrior."
In front of an excited class adorned in white and maroon, Windsor's school colors, four students joined the faculty on the stage to address their peers.
Holly Loomer, the class Scholar, talked about the pursuit of perfection, while class President Vu Truong spoke about passion and compassion. Class salutatorian Joseph Phelps gave advice on how the new graduates could get the most out of their lives.
"My message to you is simply this: be happy," Phelps said. "The great philosopher Aristotle once proclaimed, ‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.’ Everyone wants to be happy; it is a natural desire. But I believe as Abraham Lincoln preached, ‘People are as happy as they make up their minds to be. You have to choose to be happy’," Phelps said.
Valedictorian Michael Bond talked about a person who he has grown to admire, Randolph Frederick "Randy" Pausch, a former computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who became a national sensation when a speech he gave went viral. Rausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007 and months later shared his inspirational Last Lecture speech at the university before dying from cancer in 2008.
"Randy believed that handling adversity was the key to success," Bond said. "[Pausch] said, ‘The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough’,” Bond said as he spoke to the theater full of people.
Diplomas were then handed out to each and every Warrior, as family and friends cheered, clapped and carried on, celebrating each senior's accomplishment.
While advice was plentiful during the ceremony, Sills shared the most succinct bit of wisdom for the young men and women who were finally finishing their K-12 education.
"When you fall, GET UP!"