Nathan Hale-Ray bids farewell to the Class of 2013

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Tue., Jun. 25, 2013
Happy Hale-Ray graduates check out their diplomas at commencement exercises. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
Happy Hale-Ray graduates check out their diplomas at commencement exercises. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

A new crop of 98 graduates filed into the gymnasium at Nathan Hale-Ray High School on a rainy June 18 evening, and one hour later filed back out, with tassels on the opposite sides of their mortarboards.

Guest speaker for the school’s 87th annual commencement was state Sen. Art Linares (R-33), who at age 24 is the youngest Connecticut state legislator.

“Seven years ago, I was where you are now,” he told the graduates. He offered a list of 10 truths and bits of advice, including “you are only as successful as your best friends,” “the harder you work, the luckier you get,” and “don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re too young to dream.” He shared his most important advice, “which I guarantee to make you successful or your money back: call your mother when in doubt.”

The Class of 2013 featured dual valedictorians: Courtney Fiala and Kristen Wicander. Fiala told her classmates that “the most significant thing we’ve learned in the last four years is that help will always be given to those who ask for it.” She reminded them, “There will always be someone in the world who is richer, smarter, prettier and luckier than you, but there will never be another you.”

Wicander said that Hale-Ray’s small size ensured that “there really was no place to get lost, even if we tried. All the teachers know us by name and potentially taught our parents. This class seems to know each other extraordinarily well.” She encouraged her classmates to “stop worrying about details that will be unimportant in a few weeks” and focus on relationship-building. “The relationships we’ve built are what make us who we are as individuals,” she said.

“Never quit on a hard day,” salutatorian Drew Daniels advised the Class of 2013. “If you keep going through the roughest days, you will come out better for it.”

Principal Eric Spencer reminded the seniors that he came into Hale-Ray High School the same year they entered as freshmen. “Defend those around you who are powerless with your vigilance,” he urged the grads. “Be the plains walkers I know each and every one of you to be. Thank you for the magic.”

“Every good class has its own personality, and the possibilities that await every new graduate are endless” said Superintendent Dr. Mary Beth Iacobelli. “Go into the world and do well, but more important, go into the world and do good.”

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