In the sweltering heat in the gymnasium of Norwalk High School, during the 109th commencement exercises Wednesday evening, it's not likely anyone was thinking about a bowl of Cheerios.
Except for NHS's Class of 2011 President Michael Corasaniti.
"The unknown is the spice of life," Corasaniti began in his commencement speech, addressing a packed gymnasium and auditorium, where additional friends and family members gathered to watch the graduation exercises on an oversized screen.
Corasaniti said life without the spice would be like eating ribs without the sweet sauce, or nachos without the melted cheese.
"Imagine Cheerios," he said. "With no sugar."
"The unknown is something we've been prepped for for the last four years," Corasaniti added. "Forty-five months ago we were frightened, little baby cubs. Those tiny little baby cubs are still inside all of us, and we are all still a little scared."
"Collectively, I think we could come up with 2011 lessons Norwalk High School has taught us," class salutatorian Gabrielle Nowack said. "We eventually knew that not all change is bad or good, but change is inevitable."
"Can you believe it's been four years?" she said. "With a little determination, anything is possible. Among us we have artists, dancers, writers and rappers. You name it, we have it. That passion is what has driven us to where we are today."
The Class of 2011 presented the high school with a senior class gift of $5,000 to aid in school renovations, and an additional $1,000 gift to the incoming freshman class, so they feel as if they are being watched out for when they arrive, Corasaniti said.
Valedictorian Lorena Sferlazza said she was "honored and humbled" to be able to share her thoughts with the Class of 2011, their friends, parents and family members -- she even asked family members of soon-to-be graduates to stand up and receive a round of applause -- and all of the Norwalk High School teachers and administrators who provided guidance and careful instruction over the past four years.
She thanked them for their mentorship, their inspiration and for "giving us comforting advice when things didn't go our way."
"Pursuing your passions will open up a gateway to happiness and success in your life," she said.
"People we cannot even identify by name have helped us to get where we need to be."
Sferlazza urged her classmates to, as they go into the world, broaden their horizons by learning more about the people around them. She asked classmates to remember the words of film director Jerry Zucker, who said the world is like a big glass of water, with a dash of salt in it.
"You can choose to pick out all the salt," Sferlazza said, "or you can choose to pour in more water."
The salt, Sferlazza explained, represents the world's imperfections, and the water, she said, is a metaphor for possibility and passion.
"Let us not limit ourselves," she said. "Let us not be afraid of challenge."
Superintendent of Schools Susan Marks was on hand Wednesday evening to offer her own words of wisdom.
"Success comes from failure," Marks explained, urging students to try, try and try again, like the famously successful figures Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and author J.K Rowling, who began the Harry Potter series as a poor, single mother.
"What all of these people have in common is they do not give up," Marks said.
"Be persistent. It will come around. Hard work and effort always pay off."
"Be proud of this day," Marks told the Class of 2011. "It's another stage in your life."