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Old Lyme - It was only fitting that the graduation ceremony at Lyme-Old Lyme High School should happen on the first nice day in almost a week.
After all, as principal James Wygonik said, the blue-and-white sky, reflecting the school's colors, proves that God is, in fact, a Wildcats fan.
Families and friends of the Class of 2010 gathered on the school's softball field Tuesday evening to watch the 98 students receive their diplomas and, as salutatorian Andrew Winter put it, begin the rest of their lives.
"Time is a relative thing; the last 13 years have felt like nothing," he said. "And with such a manipulatable standard, how could anyone say they don't have time for something?"
Wygonik, who has only been at the school since December, spoke about struggling to find the right message to impart on a group he has known for a relatively short time. He settled on the importance of character, a quality he said is missing from much of the world today but that this class has in spades.
"The common consensus amongst my friends is the world is broken, and the future doesn't look much brighter," he said. "They don't understand my optimism; every morning I drive over the Connecticut River, take Exit 70, and spend every day with you."
History teacher Roger Haynes, retiring after 20 years at the school, echoed the theme that although the world seems a bleak place, this class represents a much brighter future for this country.
"I have faith in America because I have faith in you. Now have faith in yourselves," he said. "With knowledge, right action and good choices are inevitable."
In his address, class president George Berryman detailed the various accomplishments of the class, including sports championships, excellence in the arts and their successful robotics team. The class has been met with high expectations since day one, he said, and exceeded them in every way.
Valedictorian Lucy Walker asked the class to consider the concept of success, something that has been defined for them by teachers and parents over the past 13 years. As the years go on, she said, the traditional benchmarks by which they've judged their successes - from gold stars to final grades - will begin to fade away. More and more, they will be challenged to begin defining their own successes.
"It has felt amazing to be judged successful, to have that affirmation," she said. "Now, we're embarking on a more self-directed chapter in our lives."
LYME-OLD LYME GRADUATES
Chelsea Meredith Abrahamsson, Cassandra Ann Algar, Gilson Leandro Andrade, Jordan Arruda, Sophie Nicole Bakoledis, Bryan James Barber, Stephen Morton Becher, Daniel Joseph Bernblum, Gregory Philip Berryman, Rebecca Ann Beyer, Alexandra Anne Borsari, Alexander Christopher Bozenhard, Casey John Brett, Kirsten Nicol Brink, Amber Marie Brown, Mackenzie Clarke Burdick, Skylar Jane Carfi, Matthew Channing Carpenter, Molly Larkin Case, Elizabeth Margaret Grace Comstock, Lyndsey Nicole Congdon, Dominique Noel Constantinou, Brittany St. Pierre Cowee, Jessica Lynn Cromarty, Adilyn Elizabeth Crook, Melissa Marie Czarnowski, Megan Rachael Devlin, Brianna Marie Duffy, Ian Clifford Dunn, Conor Francis Fallon, Mara Shaw Fischer, Peer Frederik Fish, Sarah Jean Fitzgerald Briscoe, Sean Patrick Flaherty, Jeffrey Francis O'Brien Freaney, Gabriel Brendan Geist, Meghan Alanna Geist, Adam Ghalmi, Jordan Chance Giaconia, Eliza Jane Girty, Steven Sawyer Gregory, Megan Ashley Griffin, Jason Michael Gripps, Austin Cornelis Hack, Sean Francis Hallahan, Jill Marie Hautaniemi, Christine May Hubbard, Justin Talbot Kegley, Colbey Anne Kennedy, Megan Elizabeth Klein, Mitchell William Krasney, Alexander Clarke Kratzert, Clement Lefrancq, Joseph Oliver Legassie, Sean Matthew Lewis, Calvin John Linderman, Catherine Victoria Logan, Spencer Randall Mangs, Brandon Lee Margiotta, Emma Tristram Marrs, Alex James Mayne, Hayley Virginia McGill, Michael Ross McLean, Sean Patrick McManus, Ryan Joseph Milke, Jacob Anthony Montano, Emily Alisa Moran, Samantha Julia Nickerson, Alexander Armond Nodden, Nicole Angelica Nowosadko, Sarah Ann Cuccio Peck, Steven Louis Pelissier, Zachary Andrew Pepin, Jonathan Ian Pope, Daniel-Warren Milton Rasmussen, Kevin Carl Reidemeister, William Wagner Ricker, Kaylee Ann Rowland, Leah Alexandra Russell, Michael Christopher Russell, Sarah Elizabeth Sage, James Gilson Scheide, Sarah Elizabeth Schmidt, Hannah Marjorie Seddon, Patrick Stephen Shaw, Joshua Adam Stankiewicz, Dylan Patrick Stanton, Katelyn Elise Huntington Sturgell, James Rodney Sullivan, Seth Allen Talcott, Robert Finn Tyler, Courtney Taylor Vinchesi, Justin Michael Wadge, Lucy Elizabeth Walker, Hilary Harris Weaver, Timothy Karl Wilczynski, Alison Fay Wilkman, Andrew Mark Winter.