Putnam High School grads offered advice through the ages
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Jun. 24, 2013
When Superintendent of Schools William Hull addressed the graduates of Putnam High School on June 22, he shared some bits of wisdom that have survived the ages. “It's no small task to impart a kernel of wisdom or give fresh knowledge,” he said. So he used the wisdom of Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Seuss and others.
From ancient Greece: Make it a habit to help, or at least do no harm. From Shakespeare: To thine own self be true. From the Beatles: Sometimes it's best to just let it be. He quoted Mae West. “You only live once, so make it good,” he said. He repeated Maya Angelou's advice: Nothing will work unless you do. And he left them with the hearty challenge Henry David Thoreau made in 1860: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.
Assistant Principal Jacqueline Vetrovec asked the class to make a commitment to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
Principal Joseph Ptaszynski urged each graduate to “do the best you can whatever you do.” Every one is unique, he told the audience. High school graduation is but a mile post on a journey. “I hope you meet a soul mate,” he said. “And I suggest you look for the positives in everyone. That you never be afraid to try new things. That you nourish your brain and your senses. And that you do a favor for a stranger each day.”
Class officers Monica Phongsa, Jaylin Greene, Krystina Lewis, Rachel Hollingworth and Abigail Allard presented class advisor Amy Beth St. Martin with a bouquet of yellow roses, a gift certificate to the Norwich Spa, and reservations at a chocolate bar in Boston. “We wanted the gifts to reflect her personality,” Phongsa said.
The Class of 2013 gave Putnam High School the gift of a scholarship to be used next year.
Valedictorian Leslie Prunier addressed the audience, sharing a collection of sayings, proverbs and homespun advice. “I'm not any wiser than you,” she told her classmates. “We're all at the same stage of life.” Prunier took as many honors and AP courses as she could in her last two years, but it was music and drama that really helped her develop as a person, she said. “They really helped me figure out who I was as a person,” she said.
For Mitchell Baxter and Jesse Alexander, the next step is enlistment in the Army and Marines respectively. “It's in the family,” Baxter said. His father served in the Army and his brother is with the Army Reserves. Baxter leaves in 14 days for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Alexander plans to enlist in the Marines in late summer and train for a military police slot. Both his father and uncle served in the military. “I want to carry on the family tradition,” he said.