LITCHFIELD — It was an emotional graduation for 116 seniors at Campbell High School on Friday, as they said farewell to their classmates and celebrated the memory of one of their own.
"We mourned together and consoled together," said Christina Lepore, the Class of 2013 salutatorian, noting the passing of her fellow classmate, Zachary Tilbe. The graduates wore green ribbons with Tilbe's initials, showing their support for his family and remembering his presence despite his death last November following a long period of failing health.As several students wiped away tears, Tilbe's family accepted Zachary's diploma posthumously while listening to "Amazing Grace" being played on the bagpipes in his honor."He was a wonderful man," Jared Saunders said of Tilbe. "We all love Zack, and will never forget the impact he has made on our lives."For the senior class, Friday was their last time to be together, celebrate their successes and look ahead to the real world outside of the Campbell High community, said Amanda Doucette, class valedictorian."We have to face the future now, and the future is confusing," she said. "We all have doubts about the future, but I say we ignore them and follow our dreams."
She encouraged her fellow graduates to face the uncertainty and find the courage to shape their own futures.The friendships may continue, but their time at Campbell High School is complete, according to Doucette, who said each senior is capable of making the best future possible by realizing that today isn't the end, but rather just the beginning.Faculty member Chet Orban, also a senior class adviser, gave the Class of 2013 several secrets for success as they take on adulthood. He urged them to find joy in whatever they do, and to always remember that they are braver than they believe.
And above all else, he reminded the graduates that the greatest force in the universe is love.
"May the force be with you. And now, you know what the force is," said Orban, receiving a standing ovation.
Senior class president, Cameron Viola described Campbell High School as home, where students go to learn and be inspired.As the seniors leave the halls of Campbell High, Viola said it will be time to step up and go above and beyond the social norm. The lessons learned throughout the past four years have prepared the graduates to live life to the fullest, and to get back up after falling down, he said.