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New London - New London High School Principal William "Tommy" Thompson III had a few words of advice for the hundreds of family and friends who gathered on the Coast Guard Academy football field bleachers Friday night for the 2010 New London High School graduation ceremony.
"Audience participation is mandatory,'' he said. "It's imperative our friends in Waterford, and across the river in Groton, hear us today.''
But the crowd was well ahead of him. At the first sight of green caps and gowns approaching the end zone, a roar went up, accompanied by bells and air horns, and did not stop until all 156 graduates were standing at their seats.
For the first time in the history of the school, graduation was held outside and off-campus.
The Coast Guard Academy hosted the ceremony after senior class officers told Thompson they wanted an outdoor ceremony so they could invite as many guests as possible to help them celebrate.
"How does New London High School end up at the Coast Guard Academy,'' he asked. "One word - family. Our kids wanted their families to be here on their special day.''
Thompson praised the class for its accomplishments in sports, band, ROTC and dance, and shared some academic statistics. The Class of 2010 has been awarded $318,000 in scholarships; 110 will be going to college in the fall; and all students who applied to college were accepted.
But Thompson, who just completed his first year as principal, said his proudest moment came a few days ago when he saw a senior he has known since the boy was in sixth grade stop and help a fellow student who needed help walking.
"Before my eyes, I saw a boy become a man,'' he said, asking Paul Winston to stand up. "As a father of four boys, I can tell you, it's a moment every parent prays for."
Guest speaker for the nearly 90-minute ceremony was Chuck Potter, a reporter and columnist at The Day, and a 1974 NLHS graduate. He told the students to embrace the diversity of the school and the city and use that knowledge when they go out into the world to further their education or work.
"You have lived a life in which your friends and acquaintances have accents that are different from yours, and whose customs and traditions are different from yours,'' Potter said. "I challenge you all to be very aware of, and more important, very appreciative of those differences.''
Also speaking were Juanita Austin, class president, and Nicole Lewis and Connor Nee, who were chosen by their classmates to address the class.
Ryan Dominic Abbruzzese, Stephen Matney Adams, Xenia L Alicea, Rossiny Amy, Peterson Appolon, Muhammad Asad, Juanita Austin, Giovanni Aviles, Johnson Benjamin, Paul Matthew Blette, Aaron Bonnete, Micahla J-Lee Bowe, Megan Rose Branch, John G Brigham, Grace Virginia Brinkerhoff, Jasmine Brisson, D'Ana Marie Brooks, Jacob Brosofske, KaShan M Brown, Myeisha Brown, Kasseem Burch, Yezenia Burgos, Edward Thomas Campbell, Rashard Carius, Erick Burt Carrion, Kathianna Celestin, Amani Ja'Siah Clinton, Nathaniel Paul Conroy, John Lee Perry Cooks, Luis Enrique Andre Cornejo, Shamonique A. Costley, Jayson Crespo, Shakimm Jamel Curry, Jamie Daniels, Sharandah Dockery, Khamillah Dove, Rayna Jasmine Elise Dunham, Brittney Lee Dunphy, Craig Dysart, Brittany Enos, Daj'Anique K'Tara Epps, Troy Evans, Craig Andre Ewers, Christopher Lynn Ewing, Derek Fauntleroy, Joel Fernandez, Kendra Fachon Lee Ferraro, Tienna Fisher, Rachael E Gavin, Trinesa Ulanda Gilgeous, Ashley N.Gomez, Briam Adriel Gomez, Yohendy Gonzalez, Albert Goss, Leinad Luis Guerrero, Nicauri Jimenez Guzman, Mariela Del Carmen Guzman Matias, Sophia Halidis, Dauris Hernandez, Dileysi Josefina Hernandez, Emma Hernandez, Wilson Hernandez, Frederick W Hewitt, Elizaldy Rosalba Hilario, Sarah A Hodge, Ian Hook, Joshua Allen Kent Isaacs, Reinier Mikhail Torres Joaquin, Shaniece Jones, Chassa Ree Ladson, Letisha Marie Lancaster, Charlene Ledesma, Nicole Angela Lewis, Yosmely Hernandez Liranzo, Cherokee Skye Loftis, Ana R. Lopez, Robert Lopez-Andres, Andrea Lynn Maillet, Angel Alberto Martinez, Daniel Martinez, Trevon Antonio McBrown, Christian AlexanderMcCoy, Jerry Medina, Ruth S Medina, Tracy Yasmin Mejia, Alexis Rebecca Melendez, Marissa Rose Merrick, Rachel Doria Miller, Oshane Perryan Mitchell, Shakema Natasha Montague, Joshua Vinson Moore, Connor Nee, Maria Claudia Oliva, Carlos E Ortiz, Stefan Paskewich, Tyler Perkins, Kevin Peterson, Jonai Shamera Phillips, Shanae Phillips, Steve Pierre, William Polzone, Victoria Pruett, Kinde Queenan, Claudia Quinones, Mohammed Rajib, Kara Mariah Reitz, Alex Reyes, Jamalyne Marie Rhodes, Quintin Cameron Rice, Travis Lee Richardson, Glendaliz Rivas, Thea Rivers, Class of 2010, Johnny Luna Rodriguez, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Keiry Rosario, Alvin Ruiz, Yessenia Sasso, Shanice Sebastian, Jose E. Serrano, Martin Shaw, Arkiah Shuleshko, Eduardo Sierra, Melvin A. Simmons, Nicholas Singleton, Erik Michael Snodgrass, Jahirul Islam Somen, Rebecca Jean Standing Bear, Lauren Stavropoulos, Jeffrey Charles Stefanski, David James Still, Alexis Strong, Shanae Strong, Cody Royal Sullivan, Lubana Sultana, Dominick J. Terry, Darien N Thomas, Danielle Marie Thompson, Rakim Thornton, Gabrielle Torres, Alexander James Turnier, Willy Aristides Urena, Kevin J Valencia, German L.Vazquez, Xavier Orlando Vazquez, Amanda Vega, Monica Luz Velez, Dalma Angely Villegas, Bryan James Welch, Nicole Welch, Amber Wiggins, Jaron Wilbur, Camille Williams, Lemar Courtney Williams, Paul Winston, Tianna A Winston, Dejon Wrighten.