NEW CANAAN, Conn. — Lauralton Hall valedictorian Caroline Sarda always found that the hardest part about writing was finding the first few words.
So when it came time to write her valedictory speech, she turned to a poem by Phil Kaye that she greatly admires.
“I began the speech the same way that he began the poem and then from there I made it my own,” Sarda, a New Canaan resident, told Daily Voice.
She focused her speech on the everlasting nature of those who appear in stories — the idea that stories begin and end but the characters in them stay with you.
Sarda said her most transformational experience in high school was being on the debate team. While she signed up for the team as soon as she arrived at Lauralton, she said she was unsure if it would be a good fit.
“I was really nonconfrontational and the kind of people that did debate kind of terrified me,” Sarda said. But by the end of her sophomore year, she noticed a change in herself.
“I started to like the idea of trying to help other people make the same transition that I had from someone who couldn’t bear [public speaking] to someone who could handle it at the very least and someone who could try to improve in that way,” Sarda said.
She later ran for president her junior year and served as advising president in her senior year.
The New Canaan teen also recalled meeting the child she would later mentor. Sarda was was serving as a coordinator at an event for Breakthrough Options for Families , which is based in Norwalk. As she was walking around the room making sure the event was going as planned, a particularly outgoing girl noticed she wasn’t assigned to a mentee.
“She sort of just grabbed me and said that I looked lonely and she started talking to me,” Sarda said.
While she didn’t apply to be a mentor until later that year, “I knew exactly who I wanted to mentor after that,” Sarda said, adding she still serves as a mentor.
Sarda plans to head to Georgetown University in the fall. While she is still undecided, she is considering studying English or political science.
“I enjoy writing and also my junior year I started to have a little bit of experience with writing with somewhat of a political focus,” Sarda said. “I think that was interesting to do — so maybe something with that in the future.”