Friday, June 21, 2013
Dodig Tells Graduates They’re Special
By James Lomuscio
This year as in the past, there were so many graduating seniors in the Class of 2013 at Westport’s Staples High School today—463—the Staples band had to play “Pomp and Circumstance” over and over to accommodate their march into the Field House.
Valedictorian Madeline French Seidman addresses today’s Staples graduation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The Field House, sweltering despite fans placed at strategic locations, was already packed with parents, family, friends and well wishers in to the point where all the 4,000 folding chairs put out for the 126th Commencement were taken. Clusters of onlookers stood.
Principal John Dodig, officiating at his ninth graduation, kicked off he ceremony with a nod to the faculty.
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the faculty who worked so hard over the past four years to get your children where they are today,” Dodig said.
His initial welcome was followed by a mellifluous rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by the Staples Orphenians, a performance that brought a thunderous round of applause.
Valedictorian Madeline French Seidman’s address departed from routine, heartfelt farewells to what amounted to a a comedy skit replete with self-deprecating and current event humor.
“It’s tough being the valedictorian,” she said, noting that others always expect her to know everything and will throw it up to her when she gets something wrong.
Seidman also joked that she looks forward to the 20th reunion of her class, at which time she probably will not know half of her class, “because I don’t know half of you now because I spent the last four years under pile of books.”
Dodig spoke of conventional theories that helicopter parents who constantly tell their children they are special do their children a disservice. Then, he turned that school of thought on its head.
“I do think you’re special,” Dodig said. “There, I’m going to say it.”
Dodig said that after watching the students grow and witness their successes over the past four years, he was certain they were special because the parents recognized the value of the Westport school system and wanted them to benefit from it.
“It’s a very emotional day and a celebration looking into the future,” said Shayne Phares, whose daughter Shelby will be attending Indiana University in the fall.
“All of them are looking to the future,” Desiree Soli, Shelby’s aunt, chimed in.
“And all of the parents in this room are thinking about letting their children go as they start new lives,” Phares said.
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Congratulations to the the graduates!