Wilton Graduation

Wilton graduation embraces new beginnings at emotional ceremony

A class of more than 50, united by Covid-19, ready to take on the world


“Let’s all take a deep breath, and just be here in this moment,” said Ava Barrett to a packed gymnasium on Sunday, May 19, at Wilton High School.

The Class of 2024 President gave her farewell address to more than 50 graduating seniors in the presence of their family, friends, and the community.

“Each of us has worked well over 5,000 hours across the last four years of our lives, to get what? This one piece of paper,” she said, insinuating that their diplomas meant so much more.

“It gave us the gift of friendships, relationships, hardships, strength, laughter, tears, and above all, memories,” she said.

“The days are long, but the years go fast,” she concluded. “Here we are, like it or not, ready to move on to the next thing.”

Barrett led her fellow classmates in the moving of their tassels, officially transitioning them from seniors to the latest graduates of Wilton High School.

It was an emotional ceremony, accentuated by an acappella rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” by seniors Bain Dotson, Callie Ervin, Clifton Brown, and Vaughn Marquez.

But it was also a celebration of success. The distinction of Outstanding Senior was awarded to Ava Barrett, while the Citizenship Award was given to Cecelia Robinson.

High School Counselor Mark Patterson noted academic awards by having the recipients stand, such as academic excellence medallions, gold cords, and silver cords.

“In all, 70 percent of the seniors in the Class of 2024 accrued more than $500,000 in scholarships and awards to continue their education,” he said.

He stated that 25 graduates will pursue a four-year degree, 14 graduates will enroll in community college, 15 will go straight into the workforce, and one into the military.

Student Council member Addison Hartsch gave the welcome speech that afternoon after the graduates walked, one by one, into the gym to “Pomp and Circumstance.”

“On behalf of the 2024 graduating class, thank you all for coming,” she said. “All of you, whether you are parents, friends, teachers, family, or someone else, you have changed our lives for the better.”

“Because of all of you, we have made it to this day to celebrate the biggest achievement of our lives,” she added. “Thank you for what you do, and all the support, encouragement, and love.”

She remarked about her classmates’ odd start to high school; they ended their eighth-grade year early due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020.

Upon coming back to school as freshmen, they had to wear masks. Not only that, they were forced to miss out on many activities such as their first homecoming.

“But sophomore year was much better,” she said. “We weren’t held back by Covid, and we finally got to have homecoming and all the activities.”

“It was as if this was our freshman year because of how different things were the year before, but now we finally got to experience what high school was truly like,” she said.

Perhaps the biggest highlight was their trip to Washington D.C. during their senior year, which had been canceled by Covid-19 during their eighth-grade year.

“It turned out to be such an amazing experience where we learned new things and made many new kinds of memories,” said Hartsch.

During the ceremony, the Concert Choir sang “Fly Away Home,” after Superintendent Joe Burnett gave the opening remarks.

He stated that the difference between finding success and failure is not just talent but finding the courage and work ethic to persevere.

“Each of you has the seeds of success within, and it’s up to you to nurture them and make them grow,” he told the graduates. “I know you can do it.”

Meanwhile, Principal Sue O’Donnell had three words to describe the Class of 2024: flexible, funny, and fierce.

“I think you guys are protective of each other, protective of your education, and you made sure you got that done,” she said.

“I have no problem sending you guys out into this world; you’re going to be amazing,” she said. “You’ll break our hearts when you leave, but we’re so proud to be a part of that experience.”

The flower for the Class of 2024 was the yellow rose, while the class colors were royal blue and gold, represented by the blue and gold gowns worn by the graduates.

However, the class motto hearkens back to Ava Barrett’s speech about being in the moment. It states: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

As the seniors filed out, one by one, to form a line just outside the commons on a beautiful sunny afternoon, they took one last moment together.

Congratulations to the Class of 2024!