High school graduations are about ending one of life's important chapters and looking forward to the next one. And this year in Greater Hartford, it seems, several graduations were also about determination, courage and generosity.
Among those who inspired this year:
• Berlin High School senior Shelby Luddy, who has the brain condition Moyamoya disease and must use a wheelchair, stood and, with help, walked 12 steps to receive her diploma. What an outstanding example for her classmates.
• At Windsor Locks High School, Rosalie Kone proudly received her diploma — at age 91. Mrs. Kone, a great-grandmother of three, had dropped out of high school in 1944 to join the Women's Army Corps in World War II; she lives the truth that education is a lifelong process.
• Marlon Terrones received his diploma at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. The 18-year-old captain of the soccer team at West Hartford's Hall High School had suffered a type of heart attack while running with his older brother just days before graduation; Hall Principal Dan Zittoun and counselor Stephen Boyle brought diploma, cap and gown to Mr. Terrones' hospital room. He gets the "grace under pressure" prize.
(An award for "best assist" should go to Kingswood-Oxford School volleyball coach Scott McDonald, who was nearby when Mr. Terrones collapsed and performed CPR until medical workers arrived.)
• Sybelclelia Moise arrived in Bloomfield from earthquake-devastated Haiti four years ago, speaking no English. The 17-year-old graduate, who will attend the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, plans to major in international studies and a follow a pre-medical path. Eventually, she says, she wants to return to Haiti, to bring hope and health to those in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere — an admirably selfless goal.
• Sometimes, life lessons came from speakers with especially important advice to deliver. Graduates of the Hartford Public Law and Government Academy heard from 86-year-old Holocaust survivor Gisela Adamski, who was in the Auschwitz concentration camp. She embodies her message of perseverance. The war prevented Ms. Adamski from finishing high school. After she spoke, the school presented her with an honorary diploma.
Congratulations to all in the classes of 2014, and to those who inspire them!