Against a sometimes threatening sky, a large crowd turned out for the Farmington High School Class of 2014 commencement ceremony, June 6.
Few raindrops interfered with the event that featured some memorable moments, including Principal Ben Kusch’s “selfie” with senior class president Anna Korbein and faculty speaker Matthew Grove placing his ever-present sandals on the podium.
It turns out, those sandals have a story all their own. (More on that later.)
Korbein recalled freshman year as one of classmates searching for their niche and with a desire to do well, and struggling with firsts that included figuring out new locks on their lockers and their homecoming dance and dealing with the school’s “awful speed bumps.”
She reviewed the sophomore swag and numerous junior activities that set them apart, then senior year filled with college applications or making other plans.
Senior year, she recalled as their year of “lasts,” posing with Kusch for the last selfie taken as the class of 2014, a surprise move that drew laughter and cheers from the crowd.
The class’ top five academic standouts and their parents were recognized: Hannah Miller, Samuel Miller, Kaitlyn O’Reilly, Naomi Phillips and Eric Stoeckmann.
Senior class speaker Samuel Miller, who will attend Princeton in the fall to pursue a major in physics, delivered an entertaining speech that encouraged students to take calculated risks in life, get involved with other people, and take on causes and projects even if they may have fears of failure.
“People over estimate the risk of failure,” Miller said. “As long as we keep moving forward, the rest will work itself out. We might fail, we might not. But it’s much worse to sit and do nothing.”
Social studies teacher Grove, a world traveler who has walked on glaciers, survived the strongest earthquake in Chilean history and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, said he received his sandals made of tires from an East African man he befriended who had bid him farewell after joining him on the long trek to his plane by foot.
After Grove admired his friend’s sandals, he said the friend took them off and gave them to Grove, telling him he hoped they would keep him safe and happy wherever he may go. His friend proceeded to walk the entire 10 miles home barefoot.
“I’m still wearing those sandals today,” Grove said, urging the graduates to be on the side of positive change by being themselves.
“Everyone comes into the world with the same capacity to make change,” Grove said. “You just need to act on it. This world needs you, and I know you can change the course for the better.”
Laura Adelmann is at [email protected].