Jasmine Woort-Menker, 18, stood in the gym on graduation day preparing her speech as valedictorian of Rye High School's Class of 2011.
"Even though I didn't get to know everybody in my class, it's nice that I get a chance to say something to them," said Woort-Menker.
Skies were clear and sunny with a slight breeze Saturday morning as parents gathered in the stands of John Nugent Stadium. The Class of 2011 filed out of the school building across the football field, the young women in white gowns and mortarboards and the young men in black.
Woort-Menker led the procession of her classmates, following behind faculty and administrators. This was the last time they would all be together after four years of memories, and many more for those who had grown up together in Rye.
In Woort-Menker's speech, she likened her class to watching her puppy grow and how she didn't notice how quickly it was happening, while friends of hers could see the changes week after week.
Likewise, it was only after Woort-Menker had spent six months of her junior year in an exchange program in Germany that she realized how quickly her classmates were maturing.
Woort-Menker will attend Georgetown University after spending a gap year in Europe and is considering majoring in linguistics out of her love for languages.
While there is much to think about in her future, there are many things she said she will carry with her from the past. One of her favorite experiences was being part of the student a capella group Rhythm on Rye, which performed a song medley during the graduation ceremony.
Most of all, she will miss the sense of community in Rye. In particular, she remembers the show of support from neighbors she hadn't known very well when her mother was injured in a car accident.
"When times get tough," she said. "Everyone comes together."
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