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The Shelton School celebrated the graduation of 92 students on May 20 on the school’s football field. 

Members of the Class of 2023 have received 376 acceptances to 162 different colleges and universities and received $9.6 million in merit scholarships. They are headed to 50 different colleges, across 21 states. Valedictorian Callie Wakefield scored a perfect score of 36 on the ACT Reading and Science sections. Callie will attend the University of South Florida, where she plans to major in Marine Biology. Callie has been accepted into the USF Honors College and will be a member of the Division 1 Track and Cross Country teams at USF. Ten other students scored 30 or higher on ACT Composite and 23 scored 30 or higher on the ACT Reading. Salutatorian Kendall Bernbaum will attend Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn., where she is considering majoring in the Health Sciences field and will play for the women’s basketball team at Macalester. Eight members of the Class of 2023 have committed to play sports in college in five sports. Maisie Doerr completed a year-long audition process that resulted in an acceptance into the prestigious Musical Theatre program at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. In addition, members of the Class of 2023 have contributed more than 3,997 service hours in our community.

In her speech, Callie said, “I believe that the members of the Shelton Class of 2023 are going to succeed in the next steps of life. We have learned to work harder than the average student at other schools. We have learned to overcome challenges that others could never imagine. We have learned to adapt to whatever life brings us. We have learned to advocate for ourselves. And most importantly, we have learned to embrace our differences and turn them into strengths. Our differences are what makes us unique individuals. This special class is a powerful force.”

Graduation speaker Rev. Paul L. Rasmussen, Senior Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas and father of the Class of 2023's Luke Rasmussen, spoke about the value of the simple things and the importance of treating every job like it’s the most important job that you will ever have. He advised the graduates to answer the question, “What kind of person do you want to be?” before deciding what they want to do. He also spoke about the value of failure, using the analogy of Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with “liquid gold.” “Failure is not a destination ever,” he said. “Failure is a pass through to something excellent. Failure is something that will lead you to improvement. I know of no other place in the city of Dallas that is better than Shelton in taking young men and women with learning differences — what the rest of the world would consider a flaw — and figuring out how to take each broken piece and putting it back together until they discover that they are more gifted, more valuable and more important to the future of our community and our world than they ever could have been in their original form.”

Executive Director Suzanne Stell congratulated the class on their resilience. “We believe this senior class has emerged stronger for the difficulties they have experienced,” she said. “This class is marked by empathy and compassion, an unselfish attitude of quiet leadership and a commitment to serving others that leaves a lasting legacy. We see in you the leaders that take action with the joy of a servant’s heart and with compassion. You are definitely what our world needs today.”

Read interviews with Shelton’s Class of 2023 Top 10 graduates at this link.

Watch a video of the 2023 Shelton graduation at this link.

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