FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The point of the commencement speech at the 70th Fairfield College Preparatory School graduation ceremony Sunday was to “lighten up.”
When the Rev. James Martin stood at the podium in front of the 227 graduates and their families and friends, he said to them, “Don’t take yourselves so damn seriously.” He explained that no one person is better than another and to always remember that.
“When we joke about ourselves it’s a reminder of about essential limitations our basic humanity,” said Martin, a Jesuit priest, author and commentator. Although he was careful to say that his is “not advocating a mindless idiotic happiness” or being “a grinning idiot all the time”. He reminded the graduates that humility is important, but to always have fun.
And it was a ceremony of laughter and jokes all around, from Martin to the class elected speaker, Robert Salandra who said that in the Fairfield Prep tradition of paper writing, he was up until 2 a.m. on Saturday finishing his speech.
“We made it, boys,” said Salandra. “We can all say we graduated from Fairfield Prep.” His speech focused on the brotherhood he and his fellow classmates had formed during their four years of high school.
The class of 2012 wasn’t the only ones being honored, members of the class of 1962 were presented with their Golden Diplomas in honor of their 50th class anniversary.
The president of Fairfield Prep, the Rev. John Hanwell reminisced with the returning class, reminding those assembled that in 1962 a gallon of gas was $0.31 and the annual tuition to the school was $360 when they graduated. He also serenaded those in attendance with songs like "Moon River," "In the Jungle" and "The Monster Mash."
In the end, it was the graduates applauding their gathered friends and families thanking them for everything, before they walked out into the sunshine wearing their white tuxedo jackets and red carnations.