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Groton - As Assistant Principal Sean McKenna was midway through introducing former Congressman Rob Simmons during Friday night's graduation ceremony at Fitch High School, Simmons cut him off.
"It's not about me," he cried out, to massive applause from the about 320 graduates and their families, friends and supporters. "It's about you!"
Simmons, who had been running for Senate until days after the state's Republican convention, told the graduating class that they had to work hard to succeed.
He said that though the senior class was entering a world with many challenges - including a bad economy and two wars - they face a plight similar to their parents and grandparents, who lived through wars and depressions of their own.
"Give thanks to the fact that you are moving into a world of freedom and opportunity where you can earn your own success," Simmons said.
Valedictorian John Pothier said he wanted to give a speech about the memories and experiences of high school, not one filled with platitudes and inspirational quotations.
"I've decided that, instead of going on endlessly about graduation, sprinkling in inspirational metaphors and cliches straight from every commencement speech ever given, I think it's better to rather look back on our days in high school and reminisce, laugh, cry, blush and let out the biggest sigh of relief that we're finally out, yet still fondly looking in at our good times."
Principal Joe Arcarese, who just completed his first year as an administrator, told the graduates that they should work hard to excel in whatever career they choose.
"Some of you will work in medicine. Be that nurse or doctor who takes a few extra minutes with your patients to hold their hand and calm their fears," Arcarese said. "Some of you will work in business. Be the boss who appreciates employees more than profits. Some of you will work in the arts. Be the painter who imbues a canvas with a soul."
Among its successes, the entire senior class was eligible for graduation. Earlier this month, Newsweek named Fitch one of the top high schools in the nation, one of only 15 Connecticut high schools so recognized.
"We began high school as naive and immature kids and we end high school as young adults who are capable students of the world," said Class President Kevin Chan. "I see that as quite an achievement."
Jordan Adams, Diego Martin Adrianzén, Betsy A. Andramuño Torres, Marcos Nathanael Andramuño Torres, Kayla Nichole Arder, Mariasabina Arias Moreno, Jessica Lee Arnold, Gabriella Nicole Arroyo, Amanda Lynn Atad, Axel Jon Escobar Atad, Verónica Michelle Bacong, Justin Wayne Banks, Rebecca Elizabeth Bannister, Jasmine Rachel-Tamra Barber-DeCosta, James David Barclay, James Matthew Beard, Brianna Lynne Behrens, Jared David Bennett, Alivia Katherine Berg, Cassandra Victoria Bertrand, Brian David Biekert, Adrian Alexander Biltcliffe, Kiera Adria Blake, Judy Lorena Bolanos, Michael Alexander Bond, Megan Sarah Bondy, Olivia Ann Bonner, Brittany Meagan Bousquet, Karl-William Broberg, Collin Ray Brown, Timothy Joseph Alexander Brown, Thomas Joseph Brown-Morah, AnnMarie Nicole Brusky, Sara Maria Burns, Annalisa Song Rose Carmenati, Chelsea Margaret Cannon, Destinee Marie Carter, John Joseph Carton, Jennifer Yan Chan, Kevin Chan, Christopher Albert Chapman, Dashon Luther Charles, Samuel Lowe Chomet, Steven P. Christina, Jr., Aaron Alfred Clark, Alex Augustine Clark, Katrina Ann Cordeiro, Keegan Michael Costello, Ryland Jack Costello, Thomas Luis Cotto, Coleen May Cranfill, Cory Phillip Crawford, Victor Alfonso Crisostomo, William George Crogle, Christopher Michael Crooker, Elizabeth Cassidy Cruthers, Casimir Cyriaque, Morgan Skylar Davis, Rose Ann Fuerte De Dios, Jimmy Walter De La Cruz, Anne-Margaret De Los Santos, Aaron Moyer Dean, Erica Nicole DeLage, Tyler Charles Delaporta, Rachael Russell Dempsey, Lindsey Marie DeNobrega, Audrey Pascale Devaux, JuliAnne DiCarlo, Emmett Mitchell Dignan, Lindsay Corinne Dion, Joseph James Doner, Erica Noel Dozier, Colton Kelly Drain, Lindsay Nicole Drake, Tyler John Duplin, Al Jerome Sanchez Duyan, Ashley Rae Edwards, Rena Leigh Edwards, Ashley Marie Ellery, Leecy Martha Espinal, David Lee Estep, Marisa Elyse Evans, Andrew Lawrence Farrington, Christopher Ferrand, Stephanie Filippetti, Adam Daniel Fletcher, Raysa Nattalie Bonilla Florentino, Dennis Ford, Jordan Hilary Fortner, Reginald Alonzo Fowlkes, II, Jamal Andrew France, Amanda Lynn Furlong, Francesca Louise Gaudio, Melanie Rebecca George, Erica Joyce Georgetti, Kelly Ann Gerfin, Alyssa Marie Gibeault, Taylor Anne Gibeault, Joseph Frank Gingerella, Sophia Catalina Gipstein, Elizabeth Luanna Gonzales, Jonathan Alexis González, Kevin James Grant, Evan Matthew Grasser, Ashlie Nadia Green, James David Greenfield, Caitlin Shea Haggerty, Dylan MacKenzie Hall, Ellie Lucas Hall, Amanda Gayle Haluga, Christopher Steven Hampton, Kevin Patrick Harris, Joshua Robert Havens, Cody Ryan Hawley, Tyler Darius Henton, Tawnie Lynn Hespeler, Cassandra J. Hill, Kelly Annett Hillman, Briana Monique Hodge, Damien James Hodge, Joshua Torrey Hohlfelder, David William Hooper, Kaitlyn Dakota Hotaling, Sharon Louise Houle, Shanelle Houser, Michael Shawn Hunter, Jessica Jordan Islas, Lloyd Anthony Jackson, Elizabeth Mallory Jay, Amanda Lauren Jengo, Jacob Raymond Jodoin, Jessica Renee Johnson, Raquel Marie Johnson, Robert Taylor Johnson, Sarah Christine Johnson, Rannessica Lashay Jones, Michael Joseph Joyner, Amber Lynn Juillerat, Deepanvith Saivenkata Kanagala, Eric Michael Kelledes, Maria Katherine Kelly, Nicholas Rieger Kennedy, James Clifton Key, Henry Walker Kietzman, Kaitlyn Elizabeth King, Rachael Kristine Kokomoor, Nanda Kishor Kommineni, Alex Howard Korpita, Eden Marie Kuflik, Rachel Marie Kuhn, Margaret Katherine LeMontagne, Brittany Angelee Leyko, Jake Alexander Lindy, Mitchell Raymond Lounsbury, Erica Raye Lowe, Marissa Briann Lowe, Abigail Tilton Lowry, Giovanni Lozada, Ryan Keith Ludlam, Raymond Luong, Amelia Elizabeth Lusk, Arthur Barcinas Manahan, II, Cassandra Lee Ann Mancini, Andranette Maria Manso, Ola Mahmoud Mansour, Desirae Rose Maringola, Aryanna Rocio Marques, Ana Lucia Martinez, Kylie Lindsey Martinod, Jeffrey Scott Matzdorff, Adam Michael McClain, Bethany Marie McGugan, Molly Elizabeth McKenna, Bradley Stillman McLeod, Joshua Kyle Measimer, Janelle Rose Medeiros, Amanda Marie Micklus, Jivantika Pravin Mistry, Evan James Mitchell, Jessica Nicole Mizzell, Rebecca Elise Modzelewski, Barbara Maureen Moffett, Richard Daniel Monroe, Jonathan Allen Montafia, Tanar Joseph Moore, Corina Morel, Devon Lynell Morris, Karissa Kileen Morrissey, Nicholas Matthew Mugavero, Chelsea Anne Murallo, Tyler David Muszynski, Danielle Aurora Nelson, Paige Nicole Neve, Elisha Lee Nevith, Venus Alzie Nicolas, Lauren Kayla Nolan, Madelaine Rose O?Brien, Margaret Marie O?Brien, Courtney Nichole O?Hara, Kira Patricia O?Loughlin, Sophie Renee Obach, Robert Bror Okerblom, Kyle Quilana Ordonio, Micheal Gregory Otero, Jashira Pagan, Michael Patrick Paparella, Dixit Rajendra Patel, Nikita Bhupendra Patel, Tusharkumar Kamlesh Patel, Joseph D. Pefferman, Courtney Penman, Colleen Marie Pero, Robert Allen Perry-Crawford, III, Rory Katherine Petersen, Kathy Philangam, Rachel Marie Piette, Kathryn Ann Pochal, Noelle Nicole Pollard, Gregory Charles Porter, John Andrew Pothier, Anthony James Price, Stefani Lauren Pruitt, Amanda Lee Puglise, Angelina Rose Quinn, Karley Stark Ray, Jaslyn Nicole Reels, Christine Rebecca Rice, Samantha Lynn Richardson, Sarah Elizabeth Riggins, Leanna Marie Rivera, Joseph Taylor Robinson, Kelsey Morgan Robinson, Tonisa Janice Robinson, Christopher Luis Rodriguez, Alexandra Noelle Rogers, Thomas Courter Rowland, Thomas Christopher Russell, Devin Elizabeth Ryan, Berna Sahin, Alison Elizabeth Sam, Adreanna Marie Santana, Michael Scanlon, Krista Michelle Scelza, Angel Segarra, William Edward Sergiy, IV, Trisha Nayan Shah, Tiffany Ting Shen, Kevin Donald Shepherd, Edward Raymond Shiffer, Kayleigh Melissa Shinn, James Matthew Shirvell, Alec Daniel Shoop, Brian Joseph-Michaels Shultz, Abby Elizabeth Singer, Danielle Taki Small, Christopher Richard Smarz, Alexander William Smith, Dimitri Tyávon Smith, Haley Elizabeth Smith, Kamee Beth Smith, Katherine Jeanne Smith, Kenneth Richard Smith, III, Peter Richard Soeller, Tyler Norman St. Louis, Jessica Katharine Stanford, Emily Kate Story, Ariel Elizabeth Sullivan, Jessie Daniel Swink, Adelaide Margaret Taylor, Britney Denise Taylor, Greggory Andrew Taylor, Kristin Marie Tenety, Jordan Scott Tetlow, Holly Tippins, Kristy Marie Toledo-Quiñones, Amanda June Toler, Brandi Nicole Tootell, Christina Gloria Torres, Margaret Reneé Twitty, Tyler James Underwood, Justin Ryan Valdez, Lavar Lavonte Valentine, Krishna Chandresh Vanswala, Janelin Venecia Vasquez, Abraham Ray Velasquez, Veronica Mae Aguirre Ventura, Leslie Ann Vino, Alexander Joseph Vivenzio, Ashley Claire Vivenzio, Philip Morgan Wall, William Wang, Gage O'brien Weber, Robert Olden Westhaver, Billy-Joe Kenneth Whipple, Tiara Monique White, Matthew Michael Whitney, Joseph Michael Wickham, Paul Joseph Wildenhain, Katharine Claire Wilding, Tymeisha Avonna Williams, Bridget Doreen Wilson, Keith E. Wilson, Lindsay Reneé Wilson, Christina Marie Woodard, Darren Michael Young, Olivia Jean Zamzes, Jamie Zheng, Aaron Xavier Zierenberg, Justin Michael Zinewicz.
Amber Lynn Adams, Tyisha Shanice Alvarez, Tyler Nicholas Annibalini, Joshua Robert Bachinski, Amy Lynn Bartlett, Megan Ceceilia Bauccio, Ryan Joseph Boiselle, Wayne Allon Britt, Noelfa Patricia Cadillo, Kevin Noel Chavez, Kaitlyn Emma Cordray, Krista Laurel Espada, Rodney James Ford, Quinasia Sarah Gaskin, Jacklyn Granados, Ryan Anthony Hinds, Mary Shelbie Holston, Stella Yvette Hyde, Matthew Antonino Kiggans, Samuel Terre Kinsman, Jessica Dion Labrecque, Kara Lynn LeBright, Julie Ann Lee, Krystal Lynne Linski, Angel Eueirse Ortiz, Arline Paul, Brandie Lynn Phelps, Mannelle Pierre, Christopher Warren Poteat, Jeselyn Rivera, Laura Ashley Robbins, Daniel Charles Ryan, Chelsea Nicole Schroeder, Kelly Marie Slater, Troy Lamont Streater, Keith Robert Thompson, Jr. , Rachel Grace Turley, Brendon Joseph Turner, Kyle David Westerman, Martin Edward Wildey, Michelle Elyse Williams, Tevin Winston.