While high school graduation traditionally marks the end of childhood, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

Valedictorian Jacob Fried congratulated the Class of 2017 for its hard work, but warned against losing the childish sense of adventure and playfulness that marked the younger generation.

“The world that we’re entering is more uncertain and crazy than ever before,” he said. “We live in a  courtly that divided and angry. How about instead of buying into the adult mindset … we find a way to hold on the the imagination of our childhood?”

Imagination is key, he said, because it allows people to imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes. Children are hardwired to be kind, he said. Cruelty and anger must be learned.

“We’re the generation that still begs for Bill Nye and gets excited about a Disney Channel movie marathon,” he said. “I think that’s a good sign. I hope we can go one step further and hold onto the qualities of our childhoods. While we embark on this great journey, let’s just keep playing.”

Salutatorian Emily Fox also spoke with the theme of youthful playfulness.

“Today is bittersweet,” she said. “It is the end of our childhood but the beginning of our futures.”

Unfortunately, she said, high school graduation would mean the end of some small joys, like quesadilla day in the cafeteria. But there were other small pleasures to enjoy, even as students embarked on careers.

“Work can become play if you choose the right path,” she said.

School Principal Marc Guarino told the class that it would forever be special to him, as the students came to Trumbull High with him four years ago when he first took the job.

“It’s been our journey together that has made me a better person, colleague and educator,” he said. “I remember the goosebumps I had at our first school assembly. Class of 2017, it has been my absolute joy and honor to come to this special place and learn alongside you.”

Board of Education Chairman Loretta Chory told the class it was about to embark on a new and exciting journey, filled with opportunities and challenges.

“Continue to strive for excellence,” she said. “Success doesn’t always go to smartest, most talented and most gifted. Talent is helpful, but wasted if you’re not willing to work hard to succeed.”

School Supt. Gary Cialfi noted that the school was celebrating its first softball state championship, and pointed out that the team lost its league tournament opener 11-0 to rival St. Joseph, before going on its historic run through the state tournament.

“They learned from their setback, they had heart, and they believed in themselves,” he said.

First Selectman Tim Herbst, making his eighth and final graduation address as first selectman, said there was a great need for leadership in the country.

“The most effective leaders are those that lead by example,” he said. “When you lead by example, never ask others to commit to what you are not prepared to do yourself.”

Life has a way of throwing detours into the way of achieving goals, he said, but he was confident the students would not be deterred.

“In life, it’s not always a straight line. What matters is how you manage the detours, more than the detours themselves,” he said.

Class President Colby Laracuente had a simple message about the last four years.

“It could have been worse,” she said. “What if Airdrop had never been invented? How would you send memes over the school wifi?”

And even with rain pelting the gym roof, Laracuente found the bright side.

“There could have been a flash mob,” she said.