Ridgefield High School Class of 2017: Competitive Tigers committed to success

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What makes the Ridgefield High School class of 2017 stand out?

According to Katherine Gabbay, the teacher chosen by the students to be the faculty speaker at graduation this year, it’s their commitment to success.

“I think the class has a lot of strong personalities,” she said.

“They’re very competitive,” Gabbay told The Press this week. “Not only in sports but drama, music, and academic teams — they really are just fearsome competitors across the board.”

And tomorrow — Friday, June 23 — after four years of giving it their all to class and extracurriculars, 432 RHS students will be celebrating graduation.

The ceremony will be held at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and begins at 4 p.m.

“As a class, and as individuals, they should be proud of all they’ve accomplished. I am confident they will experience much success as they enter the worlds of post-secondary education, the military or work,” said Principal Stacey Gross.

Class valedictorian Julia Yu said her classmates know what they want out of life.

“A lot of us have an idea of what we want for the future,” she told The Press.

“We all want something for ourselves, and we’re all willing to work towards that.”

Yu will be joined by the salutatorian Colleen Keenan and student speaker Karena Landler during Friday’s ceremony.

Luke St. Pierre is the senior class president, and the student government president is Josh Verdejo.

Deep thinkers

Landler said that her classmates have shaped who she is today, and helped her see the value in her opinions and those of others.

“Because of my really interesting peers who are deep thinkers — that’s valuable to me,” she said, “working with people whose opinions I really value who have ideas, that while sometimes different than mine, are always conducive to development.”

She knows that they will all keep changing and evolving during this next stage in their lives,  a theme she will explore in her speech.

“I thought about the way that when you look back at who you once were, you see that past self as an entirely separate entity,” Landler said.

“I was thinking about how after this graduation people will become entirely different.”

Next chapter

Class advisers Steven Anderson and Elizabeth Ziegler know that one thing will remain the same, and that’s the class of 2017 penchant for excellence.

“Due to these students’ ambitious and spirited natures, we know their successes will continue into the next chapter of their lives,” the teachers said. “We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors and know that they will always be tigers at heart.”

Assistant Principal Jennifer Phostole is excited to see where the future takes the class.

“We have seen them grow into intelligent and mature young adults,” she said.

“I look forward to seeing them realize their full potential.”

Landler has no doubts about her classmates, too.

“We’re a class full of ambition,” she said. “We have people who I believe are going to go really far.”

Graduation party

The annual graduation party will take place at the rec center Friday, June 23, from 10 p.m. to Saturday, June 24, at 3:30 a.m.

Co-chair Steve Scott said that every year the rec center is completely transformed — and this one will be no different.

“The kids — they can completely unwind and have fun with their high school friends,” he said, “some of them for the last time before they head off to college — it’s just a great evening.”

The party is usually attended by 90% of the student body, and many have already RSVP’d.

“It’s just a spectacular evening — it’s really amazing to see these kids going into graduation,” Scott said.

“They show up to this graduation party as the young adults that they are now.”

Accomplishments

Lander told The Press Tuesday that her class is special because of its passion — a propellor to both success in individual endeavors as well as group achievements over the past four years.

“They will go far with the things they’re passionate about, that’s clear — and it’s been going on even lately,” she said. “We had the HALO awards nominations, and I recently went to a solo musical with original work and I was amazed by the level of not just talent, but hard work that was put into that.”

Gabbay, the class’ faculty speaker, agrees.

“When I think of this class, I just think of them excelling in different ways and being very committed,” she said.

‘Friends around the table’

Yu is taking that passion with her to college in the fall.

“I moved here in freshman year, and I saw that a lot of people are really driven,” she said.

“That work ethic — and the desire to push for what you want — is what I’m taking away.”

But that’s not all she’ll remember from her four years at RHS.

“Friends around the table messing around or having serious conversations — just how happy I was to be able to be with friends,” she said.

“It sounds really mundane, but that’s the main thing that comes to mind when thinking about what I’ll miss.”