Principal explains Milford graduates’ ‘different kinds of smart’

MILFORD – “We didn’t get the short end of the stick,” Brianna Close reassured Brad Craven near the end of Milford High School’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 14.

Close, the master of ceremonies, was reacting to a story the principal told earlier in the morning. His son had remarked to his mom,

“I don’t know if Dad is smart enough to be a high school principal,” after his father admitted he couldn’t help him with a geometry problem.

Craven apologized, tongue in cheek, to taxpayers and to graduates, saying they might have gotten shortchanged with a less-than-brilliant principal.

Then Craven used the story to talk about the “different kinds of smart” he has seen in students and teachers over the years: math-smart, nature-smart, street-smart, and how all these different abilities “keep things running.”

Teacher Steve Scannell used his own form of smart one day last year, Craven said, when he used a health class talk about aging and elder care to inspire his students to form Young Kasamas, a group that visits a nearby nursing home regularly, even though they don’t have to and are getting no school credit.

It’s “a very human response to a human concern,” said Craven, whose speech moved quickly from poignant to funny.

“Seniors put my Fiat on Craigslist. Did you know that?” he asked the families of graduating seniors. “A 2-year-old car for $1,300. The calls rolled in all day.”

Another graduation speaker was Jack Nichols, the student body president, who talked about what a challenging place this world has become, requiring everyone to strive for their best because “a subpar effort simply won’t do.”

Milford High “allowed us to learn how to be independent actors and thinkers,” he said, and he emphasized the importance of forming “new networks of support while not “forgetting your roots.”

In her honor’s address, Kathryn Shangraw, the class valedictorian, said, “For 12 years, we have listened, learned and studied.” Yet now that high school is over, “We can’t see what’s ahead. Time is unmoved by our impatience and curiosity.”

It’s better to stay in the present and find fresh opportunities each day, she said.

At Milford High School, “We learned putting in effort is definitely worthwhile and asking questions is a sign of wisdom.”

The ceremonies were held on the football field under cloudy skies.

Between speeches, the Milford High School chorus and the West Street Beat entertained the 241 graduating seniors and their families and friends before Superintendent of Schools Robert Suprenant certified that each senior was eligible to graduate and Craven gave each one his or her diploma.