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Groton — Robert E. Fitch High School salutatorian Sethulakshmi Babu said her grandmother always said she wanted to see her graduate.
"Hopefully, she's watching me from above," she told her classmates.
She was one of four student speakers at commencement ceremonies Friday night at Dorr Field for 281 members of Fitch's Class of 2013. More than 1,000 family members and friends packed the stands, waving and cheering as the graduates walked to the field in their black and red robes.
Candace Lamb attended two ceremonies for her children Friday. Her son, Ethan Lamb, 13, celebrated his eighth-grade promotion from Cutler Middle School in the morning, and her daughter, Emily Lamb, graduated high school in the evening. Her other children played in the band during the Fitch ceremony.
"I've had her for 18 years," Candace Lamb said of Emily. "It's a little hard to let her go. I'm happy, proud, excited for her to go to college. And (I'm) a little sad, nervous, scared, those normal mother feelings."
Class president Catherine Lanyon struggled with tears as she urged classmates to enjoy extra moments, like eating the second cupcake, swimming at the beach and watching a documentary.
"Some of you probably think I'm unhinged for being this sappy on an already sappy day," she said, crying.
Valedictorian Erika Mayer made the audience chuckle when she said she walked into Fitch four years ago "a shy and nerdy person," then added, "and that, actually, hasn't changed." She told her classmates to keep their curiosity and enthusiasm.
Senior Sean Blais was chosen as commencement speaker based on a competition at school. His message to students was to remember that choice and experience will define them as people, and they can only wake up each day and do their best.
"The only power we have is the power of choice," he said. Blais also said what defines "success" is a person's level of happiness.
Angela and Charles Hylton of New London were happy to see their grandson, Judeah Dunn, graduate.
"It's another stepping stone in his life and we're lucky to be in his life," Charles Hylton said before the ceremony.
Tyler William Ackley, Ashley Ann-Marie Adams, Sara Jane Adams, Peter Joseph Aldrich, Joscelyn Alisbo Amar, Shriji Jitendra Amin, Richard William Aspinwall, Javonne Damian Augmon, Aaron Tyler Austin, Takeya Brianna Ayres, Sethulakshmi Babu, Pamela Agnes Zablan Bailon, Christian Omar Barbosa, Julieann Rose Lee Barnes, Amar Batra, Victoria Hope Bean, Hunter Kanale Beckford, Ebony Xiomara Veronique Bell, Brandon James Bendfeldt, Christian Nelson Berg, Kyanno Joen Berrios, Samantha Paige Bialek, Sean Timothy Blais, Paula Bianca Abrenica Bolado, Christopher Anthony Bond, Ian Healy Bond, Steven Austin Boring, Ian Francis Boyd, Andrew William Braman, Alexander DaShawn Brown, Jaryn Jeneaya Burgis, Shawn Paul Burns, Renee' Elizabeth Campbell, Olivia Lee Mingsha Carmenati, Anthony Joseph Castagnaro, Kelly Oconnor Cavanagh, Sobeidaliz Centeno, Cheyanna Kristine Chesnut, Benjamin Andrew Clark, M'Kaila Janey Clark, Latazia Marie Cluff, Hope Rebecca Cole, Katie Majella Cole, Nyesha Lashel Coram, Nikolas Ryan Cordero, Avery Coughlin, Luis Felipe Crisostomo, Catherine Monique Crouch, Mason Ross Cummings, Kyle David Cutler, Krystal Lauren Czapek, Travon Michael Dandridge, Breanna Nichole Danley, Izzy Sebastian Davila, Saffwan Anthony Davis, William Paul DeCourcey, MacKenzie Elizabeth DeLaura, Alyssa Victoria Denno, Melissa Catherine DeSena, Emily Alma Dessaules, Desiree Diaz, Johnny Diep, Aiyana-Agnieszka Jemima Dietel, Elijah Guy Dixon, Kailyn Elizabeth Doiron, Makayla Anne Dooley, Clare Rose Doyle, Nicholas Ryan Drab, Nicholas Andrew Duba, Judeah Christopher Dunn, Kervince Duperval, Maegan Xue Dyakiw, Kerri Kristine Eckert, Alanna Yi-Ye Edwards, Rayvon Jamiel Edwards, Kyle Michael Ryan Esposito, Sarah Ann Ferguson, Zachary Mark Fernandez, James Patrick Fiftal, Aimee Elizabeth Filippetti, Nancy Lynn Fitzmorris, Kasey Dane Flint, Sara Racquel Fontanez, Lexis Jordan Foster, Alec John Franklin, Rachel Ann Frazzo, Elijah David Fredericks, Charles Michael Freeman, Alyssa Marie Gaetani, Jesse Thomas Gardner, Naja' Unique Garland, Kristin Nicole Gaudet, Olivia Marie Georgetti, Sarah Adrian Giblin, Hunter Lee Gillen, Lexus Deonte΄ Gordon, Cameron Issac Greer, Candy Latoja Grief, Marquis Andrew Guess, Kevin Matthew Hakenjos, Ashley Susan Hall, Meredith Grace Haluga, Mathew Eric Hansen, Dakota Joe Harmon, Nathan Patrick Havens, Daonjha Charmaine Hayes, Rashawn Edward Hazel, Demetrius Ramon Hernandez, Tracie Lynn Hicks, Austin Nix Higgins, Aaron Kenneth Hill, Desmond Jemell Hodges, Kaylee Elizabeth Hogstad, Melanie Bannenberg House, Peter Donald Houser, Joanna Michelle Hoyt, Elizabeth Marie Huey, Lauren Marie Hunt, Tristan Scott Hurley, Corey Alexander Hurt, Sabrina Lindsey Innaurato, Michael Joseph Irons, Connor Blay Irwin, Bryce Alan Jacobson, Dominic James Jengo, Sultan Jilani, Gabrielle Alicia Jodoin, Nisa Cheyenne Johnson-Smith, Stefan Edward Jones, Terrance Paul Jones, Scott Juano, Christopher B. Kane, Alexander Paul Kelleher, Nicholas Aaron Kellogg, Kaitlyn Suzanne Kettle, Stefanie Ann Kiely, Samantha Nichole King, Patrick Darnell Kirkwood Jr., Austin Trevor K Kliphon, Nicole Knox-Vilchez, Olivia Kosztala, Bryn Isobel LaLonde, Emily Susan Lamb, Catherine Emily Lanyon, Rubayet Tasneem Lasker, Meaghan Elizabeth Lau, Lindsay Marie Legary, Quiara Dionne Nichole Lessard, Perry Sage Liston, Alana Michaela Luzzio, Payton Diane Lyle, Terrie-Ann Rachel Lyon, Jordan William Maheu, Alesha Jordon Mancini, Kevin Jake Manzanares, Alba Renatte Marques, Leany Marie Marrero, Katherine Olivia Mason, Matthew James Mattila, Erika Lauren Mayer, Lariah Shade Maynard, Leia Erin McDonnell, Darshanee Casey McFadden, Marissa Ann McFadden, Rachel Naomi Measimer, Kylie Sheehan Merrow, James Nicholas Messina, Nicole Marie Micklus, Megan Kimberly Mizzell, Douglas Harold Moore Jr, Sierra-Rae Morgan, Jack Gaenor Moriarty, Tiffany Réne Mosley, Chelsea Anne Murallo, Zachary Joseph Murallo, Brittany Lashay Renee Murphy, Inisha Clara Aguilar Thomas Muse, Marquise Terrell Myers, Patrick Jaster Neigel, Holly Marie Noe, Caitlin Clare Noel, Mustapha Kolade Noibi, Juliet Ashley Novotny, Mary Elizabeth O'Donnell, Chloe Isabel Obach, Jeanelle Morales Ocampo, Laura Ann Okerblom, David Robert Oko, Joshua Hughes Paquette, North Latham Paradis, Jaykumar Thakorbhai Patel, Kanal A. Patel, Lakia Shanice Patrick, Ryan Hector Pena, Andrew Perez, Matthew Mark Pochal, David Jason Poirier, Stacia Renee Pombrio, Allissa Skye Poppick, Stephane Lamartine Pouilh, Eric Michael Powers Jr., Charles Edward Pratt, Rylan Paul Preabt, Brandon William Price, Drew James Prunier, Colin Richard Smith Purcell, Riley Sherman Pyzalski, Anibal Neftaly Ramirez Lebron, Clifford Randolph III, Troy Kiefer Renkema, Syarah Nijah Reyes, Randall Reginald Rissing, Kaitlyn Ethel Rivera, Christian Lee Rodriguez, Zeheidi Roman Acevedo, John Paul Rose Jr, Haley Elizabeth Savona, Joseph Tyler Scarpa, Shania June Schlapfer, Nicole Lauren Schoolcraft, Aaron Michael Scott, Michael Jeffrey Semancik, Jonathan Michael Shaffer, Abigale Kay Simmons, Coral Lee Smedberg, Rita Mazel Smith Champlain, Alexis Rae Smith, Calvin Wyatt Smith, Dreyvin Anthony Smith, Lauren Ashley Smith, Lester Foulton Smith, Myiesha Jen 'a Smith, Ada Marie Snodgrass, Shevon South, Srinivas Rao Srirangam, Corey Katharine St. Louis, Deion Anthonie Stanford, Phoebe Jane Steel, Nicole Lissette Stitz-Galvan, Annessa Monique Strickland, Brittany Lee Stuart, Richard Alan-Maverick Switzer, Christina Elaine Szczesny, Chloe Catherine Taylor, Charles Thieme, Kimberly Ann Thieme, Kelvin Torres, Niko Alberto Torres, Mark Phillip Tourville, Samantha Nicole Turner, Mckenzie Mccoy Umrysz, Kelly Lisa Venditti, Aaron Vincent Vetelino, Paige Nicole Vinson, Kristen Emily Wagman, Brittany Marie Wallace, Elizabeth Firth Wallace, Justin Joseph Wallace, Emmy Alina Walrath, Mai Verily Walters, Gage Michael Weber, Ashlie Nicole Wenzel, Crystal Marie Westrate, Katherine Mary White, Lucia Fox Wiley, Roslin Marie Wilhelm, Jacquilynn Elizabeth Wilkinson, Ryan Christopher Willey, Johnathon Norman Williams, Carly Nicole Wilson, Justin Patrick Wing, Alexandra Lee Wisniewski, Brianna Marie Wisniewski, Bradley Charles Wydler, Lake Ringland Hadden Wyld, Kathryn Alexandra Yalen, Jacob Michael Yost, Holly Kathleen Zeppieri, Morgan Taylor Zimmerman.