DANBURY, Conn. — Under bright blue skies late Thursday afternoon, the 589 members of the Class of 2016 marched onto the football field at Danbury High School to celebrate commencement.
In Danbury High tradition, the students — boys in blue, girls in white — poured over the hill from the gym in a massive line, walking four across.
Greeting them on the field was Principal Gary Bocaccio, who is retiring at the end of the school year after 42 years in the city's schools. He capped his long career at DHS with his final five-year stint as principal.
Rahul Malayappan gave the valedictorian address, remarking how anything is possible. He said "didn't turn in half of [his] homework assignments and struggled to get A's in math and English" yet became the top student in his class.
"While the caprice of the world around us can perhaps be reason for unease, it can also be a source of hope," he told his classmates of moving forward in life. "This uncertainty that fills our lives is also the reason that we can be confident that tough times are only temporary, and that we can stay optimistic when things are bleak. ... We should look to the future with an overarching sense of mystery, awe and wonder."
Class President Ciara Broggy also addressed her fellow graduates, relating the tale of her dad's lucky $5 bill, found on the very day he learned she would be born. He has promised to give it to her someday.
"He has shown me that no matter how small something may look, it can represent something far more significant and valuable than our eyes can observe," she said. "It's what you feel deep down in your heart that truly matters. For my dad, the lucky $5 bill represents the joy of good fortune and a new beginning. ... Much like the lucky $5 bill, this diplomas is the start of a new beginning."
Khushil Rana also gave a student speech, mixing a bit of political humor with advice for his fellow graduates of Danbury High.
"The choices we make as well as the change that we bring to society will define our future," he said. "We have the power to make productive decisions that should not only benefit ourselves but also our communities and livelihoods. I mean, if Donald Trump can secure the Republican nomination, there is absolutely nothing we can't do."