SOUTHINGTON - Southington High Schoolâ€™s class of 2018 enjoyed a graduation day as bright as their futures and as clear as the determination and intelligence that brought them to that long-awaited moment.
Families and friends filled the bleachers overlooking the athletic field where the ceremonies took place. Though sweat beaded on their brows it did not diminish their cheers and applause as the graduates marched onto the field as the school band heralded their arrival with Pomp and Circumstance. Cameras flashed and hands waved until all were assembled.
Following a group of students singing the national anthem, class President Anthony Riccio welcomed all assembled and reminisced about his classâ€™s high school years.Â
â€śToday marks a significant day in our lives and not only because we are that much less likely to end up living in our parentsâ€™ basements,â€ť he said. â€śIt is time to truly start living life on our own terms and to be the person we want to become.â€ť
Then the schoolâ€™s top three students addressed their peers on the eve of their achievement.
Essayist Evan Bender told his fellow graduates that after this day their lives would change forever.
â€śInstead of being spectators to change weâ€™ll be the ones making it,â€ť he said. â€śWe can do many great things, even change the world, but before we do that we must be willing to change ourselves. As we move forward we must step out of our comfort zones and become risk takers willing to break the mold.â€ť
Salutatorian Chloe Becquey congratulated her peers for making it through 13 years of school alive and then spoke out against the school shootings that had occurred over the years since Columbine. She encouraged her peers to â€śdemand change.â€ť
â€śThis has gone on for too long,â€ť she said. â€śJust within our short lifetimes this has happened too many times and too many people have been killed or injured.â€ť
Valedictorian Lydia Yu said she was â€śincredibly proudâ€ť of every one of her peers graduating.
â€śPeople are tremendously important and our ability to work together is what creates the change and improvement that we want,â€ť she said. â€śSurround yourselves with good people so that you can all mutually build each other up, but most importantly I encourage you to be a good person.â€ť
Well wishes and life advice were later imparted to the graduates by Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan, Steve Pintarich and Steve McCarty of the local American Legion, Southington High School Principal Brian Stranieri and Board of Education Chair Brian Goralski.
Connellan told the graduates that they alone are responsible for the people they become and the legacy they create. He encouraged them to be kind in word and deed.
â€śAccept personal responsibility for everything you do,â€ť he said.Â
He also encouraged students to keep a strong level of civil responsibility and activism. He encouraged them to spur a return to polite, civil discourse in society.Â
Pintarich encouraged veterans to stand along with students entering the military. He had the veterans salute the recruits.
McCarty encouraged students to enjoy their day, share it with friends and family and to be proud of themselves. He told those entering the military to remember they are not alone and that Southington is their home. He asked God to be with them.
Stranieri told the students to believe in themselves and know who they want to become. He encouraged them to be able to handle losing at many things if they wish to succeed in life.
â€śA dream is only a dream until you make it a goal,â€ť he said. â€śThe first part of your dreams are now complete. You have made friendships and experiences that will last a lifetime and you now have the training and the education to succeed.â€ť
Goralski said that the class of 2018 was inspirational.
â€śYou have become role models for your school and your community,â€ť he said. â€śYour words, actions and deeds have made the world a better place.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or .