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New London - Tiana Victoria Hercules took the podium on the green at Connecticut College Monday night and offered the soon-to-be-graduates of New London High School her take on their futures.
"By growing up in this community, each of you has a unique perspective to offer the world," said Hercules, the guest speaker and a 2000 graduate of New London High. "The question is: What will your story be?"
That may take a few years to determine, but one thing was certain for nearly 200 students on Monday night: The next chapter of their lives will start with a diploma from New London High.
The Class of 2011 was honored in a commencement ceremony that featured plenty of powerful cheers for graduates and even a few air-horn salutes.
The evening started with a processional from the New London High band, under the lead of Director Scott Morgan, and soon Principal William Tommy Thompson III addressed the crowd. He encouraged members of the audience to make sure their friends in Montville and Waterford would hear them cheering loudly.
Then John Diaz-Saez, the class president, and Ami Dhyani and Joshua Giambra, the class speakers, addressed their fellow students, parents and other supporters.
Diaz-Saez ended his remarks with a quote from an anonymous source, saying, "May the dreams of your past be the realities of your future." Giambra, the class valedictorian, referenced his fellow classmates in saying he would be accompanied by many "noteworthy individuals" in the future.
Dhyani said the class of 2011 would be linked forever.
"Even though we've changed and we're finding our own places in the world, when tears fall and smiles spread across our faces, we'll come to each other," Dhyani said.
Hercules, the guest speaker, followed up the student speakers and spoke of her early life in New London public schools. The eldest of nine children, she eventually became a lawyer for Medicare Advocacy Inc., and now helps the elderly and impoverished in her work.
Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer and New London Board of Education President Alvin G. Kinsall followed with some brief comments before students lined up for their diplomas.
Once every student had made their way to the stage, Thompson instructed the class to turn the tassels on their graduation caps.
A few moments later, confetti and several caps hit the air. One read: "I did it."
The same could be said for all the students in the Class of 2011.
Maria Isabel Abreu, Jackeline Acevedo, Joel Acevedo, James Joseph Adamowicz, Devonte Adams, Dakwan E. Alger, Andrea Almonte, Lissette E. Andino, Francesca D. Andrews, Alyssa Marion Atherly, Elijah Baatz, Tania S. Baez, Cleaving Georges Bernadel, Jade Marie Bland-Allen, Shanel Blount, Isaiah Boney, Juan Bonilla, Takiyah Shanté Bostick, Brittany Marie Brewster, Kaila Brown, Mark J. Brusca, Brandon Phillip Bruun, Yazmine N. Burgos, Jessica Carlina Burgos-Pantaleon, Reggie Cardinal, Nicholas Alexander Carter, Brennan J. Caruso, Aaron Castillo, Reneicsa E. Champlin, Torin Childs-Harris, Joshua Clements, Lashay Collett-Holmes, Paul A. Craig, Anea Lee Crespo, Juan Antonio Cruz Jr.
Also: Franklin Dallas, Stephan Dance, De'Chelle Marie Darden, Francis J. Del Rosario, James Dell, Yosha Dhungana, Ami Y. Dhyani, Emmanuel Diaz Garcia, John Diaz Saez, Nathan William DiFrancesca, Dayha Demetrius Drain, Katelyn Ducheneau, Ibrahim Elahi, Mark Anthony Escobido, Carrie Jazmin Feliciano, Pol Lucas Feliu Colon, Zona Marie Fenty, Faloon Maria Fernandez, Denise Rose Filpo, Roosevelt Fleurijeune, Andre Q Foster, Anthony Abdul Gafoor, Pierre Georges, Joshua J. Giambra, Breanna Gomez, Da'shenik Jacqueline Gomez, Lizeth A. Gomez, Danielle L. Gonzalez, Joseph Diego Gonzalez, Olivia Josephine Grant, Najee J. Green, Nora Q. Greene, Mathew Greene Jr., Javier Ernesto Guevara Monge, Elizabeth B. Guigni, Carlos Jose Guzman, Yeraldine Guzman.
Also: Nicholas Alexander Hartmann, Winston Hawker, Raphael Federico Hayer, Michael Hempstead, John Moises Hernandez, Zach G. Holloway, Benjamin Jacob Horn, Terrell L. Hudson, Twanisha K. Humphrey, Shianne Elaine Jefferson, Tywan Aric Jenkins, Trae L. Jennette, Nicole Amber Jewell, Dennis Jimenez, Ralph Russell Torres Joaquin, Chanel Lynn Johnson, Gavin Ryan Johnson, Isaiah C. Johnson, Seekio Delmar Jones-Frett, Randy Omar Juarbe, Paul King, Daniel J. Knight, Kyle Nicholas Krewsky, Michael Kydd, Peter Kydd, Anthony Lamparelli, Zara Lane, Michael Dwayne Lee Jr., Derrick LeSane, Siete-Chairese M Levey, Zachary Lewis, Carlos R. Lozada, Mareka Massey, Edwin Mateo, Gerardo J Medina, Emily Nichole Mejia, Stephen Miceli, Daquan Rashawn Miller, Evanisha Monique Miller, Shayla Miller, Matthew Y. Mirles, Kimberly Molina, Giovanny Montanez, Gillian Francesca Monte, Denzel Lamont Moore, Enilda Morel.
Also: John C. Napier Jr., Madison E Nee, Juliana Ivette Ortiz, Carlos Jenniro Paige, Nehemie Paulemont, Rashad A. Pauley, Kelvin Peralta, Joseph John Perez Arce, Aaron Perez Griffith, Kaitlyn Ailecra Perkins, Amanda Nichole Pervine, Zachary Michael Peterson, Brandon John Phelps, Kiara Phillips, Leanna Ronay Phillips, Michael Joseph Picatello, Bertinia Pichardo, Shadell C Pickett, Yohensy Moises Pina Aquino, Damian Preka, Jasmine Marie Pugh, Isaiah Christopher Ramos, Jalissa Juliette Ramos, Jillian Justina Ramos, Jaonna Lynn Ramseur, Luis Ernesto Reyes Peguera, Special Gwendale Rhodes, Missette Denise Richardson, Felix Rios, Loida Rivas, Natasha Rivera, Katheryn Yamil Rivera-Colon, Chelsea Robinson, Jorge Luis Rodriguez Jr., Jocelyn Rosario, Alivia Jenice Royal.
Also: Christopher Alan Salva, Brian Sanchez, Brittany Sanchez, Edgard Santiago, Cesar Jose Santiago-Bermudez, Yeimillie Santos Santos, Bowen P Schramm, Therin Raymond Scott, Francisco Serrano, Taylor Renee Shaw, Latia Shanice Silvan, Marcel Simmons, Hayley Catherine Smith, Logan John Smith, Luke Morgan Smith, Dijeon Sousa, Leslie Ambral Souvenance, Jeremy Michael Startz, Andrew Sullivan, Joshua D. Thayer, Amy Underwood, Lizbeth A. Urena, Raphael Valentin, Miguel Angel Villar Ramos, Johanna Maria Villegas, Aaron J Vincent, Chloe Denai Ware, Steven Wendell Whipple, Shanice Melissa White, Jennifer Woodstock, Laura Wrighten, Alaysha S. Yard, Lateya Yard, Joshua Zurita.