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DHS grads prep for world beyond Darien

With a turn of a tassel Wednesday evening, 328 seniors graduated as part of Darien High School's Class of 2014.

A large audience attended the ceremony at the high school, which celebrated seniors' accomplishments throughout their time in the Darien school system.

Board of Education Chairman Betsy Haggerty-Ross, who was introduced by her son, senior Matt Ross, said she remembered walking her children into their first day of kindergarten, as well as dropping them off for the eighth-grade trip to Boston.

"The celebration of the senior class is an acknowledgement of the people and community that encouraged them on their journey," Haggerty-Ross said.

As part of the senior gift, the community council presented a donation to the Andy Smiles Forever Foundation, which was created following the sudden death of Andy Pena in 2010. Pena would have been among the graduates, and Pena's mother, father and brother attended the ceremony.

"Andy Pena had a smile that told a story," said Samantha Schrenker, a senior class officer. "He taught us the importance of smiling under any circumstance. His memory will forever be part of our story."

During his address, salutatorian Cameron Van de Graaf thanked the coaches in his life and reminded the graduates that coaches are not limited to those of the "athletic variety."

"A coach is someone who possesses a genuine passion of a particular activity," Van de Graaf said, adding that the most indispensable coaches in their lives are their parents.

"At the end of the day, they're our greatest fans," Van de Graaf said.

Valedictorian Catherine Lacy said it was important to "keep things in perspective and keep learning from your mistakes."

"I wish you spectacular failures because spectacular successes cannot exist without them," she said.

"The most important thing is to persevere," said Reed Barthold, community council president. "There is a world outside Darien; a world without lacrosse and boat days. I wish you all more than luck."

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews

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