Clark Lane Middle School Eighth-Graders stepped, quite literally, from middle school to high school last night when they strode proudly across Waterford High School’s new athletic field to collect their promotion certificates.
The June 14 ceremony had all the trappings of a graduation, minus the caps and gowns, but students didn’t seem to miss that part. They embraced the opportunity to rock their own personal style, whether that was hair dyed blue to match a dress or looking sharp in a U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps uniform.
Speakers included First Selectman Dan Steward, School Superintendent Jerome Belair, Board of Education Chairperson Kathleen McCarty, Clark Lane Principal James Sachs, and Waterford High School Principal Donald Macrino.
As educators and elected officials, all are well-practiced in the art of public speaking but last night they were all upstaged by eighth-grader Anastasia Amodeo who, despite a few nervous giggles, was by far the most eloquent speaker of the evening.
She began her student address by comparing students to pencils in a box. To be the very best pencil, she said, there were five things they needed to know.
1. They had to allow themselves to be held in someone’s hand. “We’ve all held each other up, just like the hand holds the pencil,” she said.
2. From time to time, a painful sharpening would be needed to make them better pencils. “We need to experience tough things in order to grow,” Amodeo said.
3. They all had erasers, which gave them the ability to correct their mistakes. “We all wish we could erase moments in time,” she said, “but we all learn from our mistakes.”
4. The most important part of the pencil is what’s inside it. “Don’t let others define who you are,” she said. “Being different is OK. Being unique is what we’re really called to do.”
5. On any surface, you can make your mark and, above all, never stop writing. “We need to take risks and stretch ourselves,” she said. “Live life so that others will know you’ve been there.”
“Today, we are pencils,” Amodeo said in closing. “Tomorrow is unwritten.”