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WEST WHITELAND — The 2015 graduating class of Collegium Charter marked a special achievement in the school’s short history.
Not only did the 40 seniors become Collegium’s 10th graduating class, but it was also the last class under CEO and founder Bill Winters.
“I would like to thank all my teachers and the faculty that has not only provided me with an invaluable education, but also a memorable high school experience,” said Valedictorian Torsten Bechtel. “I want to especially thank Mr. Winters, who watched and guided Collegium’s growth to bring it to where it is today.”
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As the students say goodbye to the school they have called home, 11 of them for the all 13 years of their school career, they will begin the next great adventure in their lives.
“After so many years at Collegium, we have learned how to learn and have been taught not so much what to think, but how to think,” said Salutatorian Sassy Raja. “That is the true measure of our Collegium education. Our life is not defined by our high school grades, extracurricular activities, hours of community service or how many minor offenses we have received. As composer Colin Davis said it best, ‘The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.’”
That next path is going to be different for each of the 40 students taking the next step into the large world ahead of them.
“There are many paths that this graduating class may take,” Raja said. “Some of us might join the workforce, some of us will serve our country and some will be going off to college. These paths may cross and diverge, but do not be fooled — everyone here has the power to be successful. But you have to work hard to achieve something big. Our life is defined by what we make it.”
No matter what the future may hold, Bechtel reminded fellow classmates to not forget where they came from.
But also, don’t be fooled into thinking the future is going to be perfect.
“We will come across more challenges and more obstacles than ever before lying in the road between us and success,” Bechtel said. “And like those trials that we have faced at CCS already, I am completely certain that we will overcome them. We will deal with them, work hard through it and strive to go all the way.
“If Collegium has ever taught me anything, and I’m sure all of the rest of the graduates would agree, is how to be ambitious and resilient.”
Bechtel reminded the graduating class that they all have something special, being just a class of 40 — though that’s larger than the original class of eight — and to always remember their time together.
“It has been an honor high-schooling with you guys and I’m sure I’m going to miss all of you no matter what in the years to come,” Bechtel said. “To finish, I have a quote from Dr. Seuss, where he said, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over — smile because it happened.’ And so we can smile one last time together.”