Grads go forth with lessons from past

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
June 17, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — The top two students in North Branford High School’s class of 2008 looked to their childhoods for inspiration as they addressed their classmates at graduation Monday.

Valedictorian Corey Dwyer evoked the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” TV show, while salutatorian Samantha Flanagan discussed the lessons of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” in their remarks to the 175 graduates.

“He influenced the Rangers into doing what was just,” Dwyer said of a character on the show, “similar to what our parents, teachers and counselors have done for us.”

Flanagan said the Dr. Seuss story “still has important lessons for us today.”

“The moral of the story is that you should always try new things because you never know what you are going to like,” she said. “It is in trying new things that we discover who we are as individuals.”

Even Superintendent of Schools Robert Wolfe got in the spirit, quoting from a Curious George story.

He noted that the character’s traits, such as ingenuity, imagination and, of course, curiosity, are ones that students should cultivate as they address the challenges of today’s society.

Alex Bode, 18, was among the excited graduates Monday. Bode faced particular challenges during high school, as she uses a wheelchair due to a condition called Friedreich’s ataxia.

The inherited neurological disease causes degeneration of the spinal cord.

Bode, who took some classes at Southern Connecticut State University this school year, will attend Southern in the fall. Her sister, Sam, also has Friedreich’s ataxia and attends Southern.

Their mother, Mary Caruso, said she is nervous but happy to see Alex move forward in life. “It’s exciting — my last daughter graduating,” Caruso said. “It’s been a tough year for her. She’s had some medical obstacles, but she’s still graduating with honors.”

Principal Michele Saulis said that 85 percent of the class of 2008 is going on to higher education, with 70 percent of the graduates going to four-year colleges.

“You have made (your family) very proud by earning your way to this ceremony tonight,” Saulis said. “Isn’t it great to fulfill a dream? It’s great to fulfill your own dreams, but even better to fulfill someone else’s.”

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