Milford High’s class of 2018 graduates

MILFORD – Waiting on the football field for graduation ceremonies to begin, David Alcox had something to say about the Class of 2018.

Alcox, who had 140 of the 210 graduating seniors in his social studies, psychology and We the People classes, said this class is special in a way he has not seen in his 23 years teaching in Milford.

There is “a core group absolutely driven to make changes in this world,” he said, and several of them are “already setting themselves up to do really good things.”

And the world needs them, said Principal Brad Craven in his welcoming speech, telling the graduates they “will, must and should” continue learning, and the blight of hate in the world reminds us of the importance of education.

A recent trip to India, a vast and amazing place with “staggering poverty,” he said, was a reminder of the enormity of the world’s problems and also suggests what we all can give to make things better.

A visit with a large group of disabled young boys was eye opening, he said, because the children were not interested in their money, but just wanted to sit and talk and watch their visitors dance, “as lame and pathetic as it was.”

That experience “beat Taj Mahal,” said the principal. “I came home with a 104 degree fever, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”

The Americans n the trip also learned of the plight of girls who typically miss 50 days of schooling each year because they don’t have the supplies they need during their period.

But you don’t have to go to India to do good, to be part of the world’s “great arc for the good,” he said, and talked about Milford teachers Steve Scannell and Glenn Kelly, who are retiring.

Kelly commuted from his home in Newton, Massachusetts, every day because he knew that art was the salvation of many students. And Scannell started the Young Kasamas, a group that befriended residents of the Crestwood Nursing Home. The young people played Uno with them or just held their hands, “giving them a reason to get up in the morning,” Craven said.

Craven also talked about Emily Worrall, a girl who loved soccer and died three months before her graduation, a loss that “devastated the community.”

The morning ceremony’s master and mistress of ceremonies, Neil Rafferty and Olivia Wisbey kept things light, but Olivia turned serious to say the class donated windchimes in Emily’s memory, and they will “forever chime in the school’s Tundra,” an interior courtyard of the school building.

Later, Emily’s two sisters accepted her diploma.

In her speech, class president Shelby Houghton talked about what the school has given her and her classmates, including a desire to serve something greater than themselves and the tools they need to advocate for a cause.

“We are a kind, compassionate and rowdy class,” she said. “I am so proud of you.”

The most important lesson, said Sophia Smith, the class valedictorian, was how to believe in herself despite the doubts of others.

“People don’t get to tell who you are … you define yourself and have the power to make your own decisions and the power to prove them wrong.

“Fear of failure is no reason to give up,” she said. “My fear held me back. It’s hard to be happy when you’re focused on not messing up … my quiet freshman self would never have believed” that she would be speaking at graduation.

Schools Superintendent Robert Marquis, who is retiring at the end of this month, asked the class to stand and applaud their parents and then offered several bits of advice: Don’t procrastinate, don’t lose your sense of humor, don’t smoke or chew tobacco. Do confront bullies, do open your heart to love and do honor all who contributed to your life.

Paul Christensen, director of student services, presented the 14 students who graduated summa cum laude, achieving grade point averages of 4.2 or higher:

Blake Hunter Audibert, Adrian William Curless, Lauren Nicole Dishong, Jolie See Ah Gonthier, Nicole Li Quing Jutras, Cameron Matthew Leo, Riley Machel Matthews, Andrew James McNeil, Sierah Nicole Miles, Kaitlynn Eliona Morgan, Anika Renate Strelow, Olivia Susan Wisbey, Amber Leigh Roadcap and Sophia Katherine Smith.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or