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CHARLOTTE BERGER: Student Speaker

Leave it to the Class of 2012 to start our senior year Irene style, with massive hurricane winds that literally brought the house down, and ending on the hottest day of the year. How does Mother Nature plan such a fitting beginning and end for our class? We, who would literally and figuratively start our year with a bang, and end it with people passing out from the insanity of this heat wave. Welcome to the Class of 2012, where normalcy is never an option.

Walking into school the first day this year, the celebration of our senior year was just beginning. There was an actual party in the front lobby, with music blasting, and seniors, juniors, sophomores and even new freshmen dancing before our classes started. Looking around at the frenzy, I saw the huge smiles on every student’s and staff member’s face that entered Weston High School on Sept. 6, 2011. I knew the Class of 2012 had arrived.

The always-enthusiastic Ms. Wolak was right there dancing along, greeting all students as we made our way into the lobby. What an unusual way to start a school year, but also a great way to display the uniqueness of our senior class. We love to celebrate — our final year in the Weston public school system, all of the hard work we’ve done over the past four years and our plan to change Weston High School forever during our senior year.

And of course our celebrations didn’t start with that dance party. It originated in elementary school with the greatest game in the history of gym class: Battle Pins. Through the guidance of Mr. Halgren, Mr. Santora and Ms. Kus, we learned that protecting those pins from the opposing team was more important than learning our multiplication facts, and, honestly, the only reason I ever looked forward to gym class in elementary school.

The forever famous floatie flip-flops were celebrated by the girls when we were in fourth grade. Regardless of the fact that it looked like we were wearing neon water skis on our feet, we thought these were the epitome of glamour and high fashion. We all thought we were SO cool.

But nothing compares to the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh trading card battles that occurred all day, everyday with the guys. If you didn’t have the shiniest and the most powerful card, you were out. These guys had literally hundreds of cards; it was impressive. And it looked like the experience of losing a “battle” was devastating.

Weston Middle School was our next celebration. We not only had acne and braces back then, but if you didn’t get to lunch on time when they served pizza bites or Italian dunkers, you were seen as an outcast, and it was a lot of pressure to deal with.

Then came the bar and bat mitzvah year where we all shuffled around pretending we knew how to dance. It’s crucial I mention that when I say dance, I really mean pop, lock and drop… The newest and coolest dance move back then and if you could actually get your body to drop that fast, you were considered an amazing dancer by all of your peers.

So while the girls were busy worrying about Abercrombie Jeans and perfectly pin-straight hair, the guys were feeling inspired after reading The Outsiders. They decided that staging a mock gang war between themselves was the best use of their time. The battle between the Soc’s and the Greasers began, Weston Middle School style.

Then there was Natures Classroom and Americana, where it wasn’t just about learning, but escaping our parents and annoying our teachers. Through these adventures, we learned the unique qualities all 189 of us possessed. We learned that when we are united a class, we have a great sense of humor; we are innovative and incredibly spirited. Now that’s something to celebrate.

Our high school experience has been an untraditional one. But it wouldn’t reflect our class if it were any other way. We’ve witnessed feats of athletic greatness, artistic ability and created milestones that Weston High School will never forget. We raised over $130,000 at our second annual relay for life that took place on this very field, our sports teams have made history this year with our incredible wins at SWC’s and state finals, and we’ve watched our favorite band, the Interstellar Elevators — who I had the pleasure of seeing their final concert last week — travel to California for a nationwide battle of the bands competition. It’s fair to say as a class we are talented and passionate when it comes to representing our small town. Most importantly, we accomplished all of these milestones together.

It’s the personalities of the Class of 2012 that we celebrate here today. Without each and every one of us, we wouldn’t be the class known for having the strongest sense of camaraderie and a heightened appreciation for serving our community. In a way, we are like a family; we have the exemplary first children who have the incredible academic and athletic skills that never go un-noticed in our community. We also have the middle children. The ones who may not be starting attack on the lacrosse team or the editor of the student newspaper, but they are the backbone of our class. The students who cheer others on in the stands, who set up the stage and do the lighting for company productions, and continue to be a positive influence in our school community. We then have our youngest children, those who just love to be free spirited, who are along for the ride, and who experience life on their own terms. And just like any other family, we’ve spent the last 12 years growing, arguing, playing and laughing together. And today, we are celebrating together.

With this, perhaps more than anything else, is the lesson we learned — that as separate individuals we are, at most, mildly effective. But together we were able to combine our talents into a powerful arsenal of educational excellence, athletic achievement and community spirit.

None of these incredible experiences would be possible without our fabulous administrators. Ms. Wolak, you’ve been with us throughout the entire journey and you know us better than anyone else. Thank you for making every day, as you would say it, a “fiesta” and for always helping us get through the hardest of days at Weston. We so appreciate your support the past seven years.

To Mr. Doak and Dr. Moratto, you’re both phenomenal educators and leaders. Thank you for celebrating our excuses for not showing up to class, and never judging us for them. You were great people to confide in with any issues we experienced throughout our journey in high school.

And Coach Berkowitz, it was a pleasure working with you this year, and I value the leadership skills you have taught me, along with the other senior athletes. You have always believed that Tradition Never Graduates, so even though we have graduated here today, Weston will always be a part of us, and the values we learned here as athletes will be carried with us always.

To all of our teachers, guidance and support staff, we appreciate your patience with us, and thank you for being the finest educators. Your lessons will always be beneficial to us in our life and you have prepared us very well for our future. And although we have learned how to tweet, text, facebook and complete our homework all at the same time, while taking notes in class, our teachers still manage to challenge us everyday. You all have become our friends this year and we respect you greatly.

Lastly, to our families, thank you is not enough to show our gratitude. Our gratitude for all the things that you have done for us, for your unconditional love and support, so instead of saying thank you, let us instead give our families a big round of applause.

Class of 2012, celebrate today. Celebrate this moment. You’ve accomplished so much as students, athletes, artists and as truly innovative thinkers. We all have brains beneath our caps, and feet underneath those gowns. Use them wisely and do incredible things, go to unreachable places, and start mapping your future on your path to success. Celebrate the memories and what is yet to come in your future. I hope that sometime during your journey, you will remember where you first started, as the Class of 2012. I know I will.

Congratulations guys!

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