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New London - In her speech to classmates at the Waterford High School commencement Wednesday, Class of 2011 valedictorian Emily Diana found it a bit puzzling that she was asked to give an inspirational speech to mark the occasion.
After all, Diana, 18, said, she and her fellow graduates are in transition.
"I'm legally an adult, but just a kid," Diana said. "I haven't seen the world."
But instead of marching through a list of typical graduation day platitudes, Diana asked her classmates to embrace some of the ambivalence about the future that might be residing in her fellow 249 graduates, all clad in their Waterford blue academic regalia.
"The only thing we are certain about is uncertainty itself," Diana said. "There's a power in it. It's what makes us read mystery novels and watch horror movies."
There was also some uncertainty about where the school's 52nd commencement would take place.
Already moved from the school grounds to Connecticut College because of construction on the school building, the ceremony was moved again from the college's Temple Green to inside Palmer Auditorium because of the rain.
The change of location made for a different kind of ceremony.
Normally the school's commencement takes place at the Waterford football field with family and friends far away in the bleachers.
Inside Palmer Auditorium, Wednesday's ceremony was a more intimate affair, as some parents rushed to the aisles to snap photos of their son or daughter as they entered the room.
Other parents exchanged a quick handshake or made eye contact to offer a knowing, proud smile.
In his speech, salutatorian Bingyao Zhou made sure to thank parents on behalf of his fellow seniors.
"You gave us advice when we were lost," Zhou said. "And you forgave us when we ignored it."
The graduation was also the first in Waterford for Superintendent of Schools Jerome Belair, who assumed the district's helm in February.
He urged the class to dream big.
"Not dreaming of success is not acceptable," Belair said.
Rachelle Ashley Aekins, Jalen Marie Anne Aledia-Binion, David J. Alfultis, Caitlin Marie Almeida, Tanya Alexis Anderson, Danielle Lyn Annibalini, Claudia Sofia Aparicio, Takai Alicia Aponte Howard, Sofia Alicia Arteaga, Alexa Ashton, Bryan Davys Bacha, Sage Bagwell, Mareena Ellen Bartelli, Elizabeth Ann Bashir, James David Baxter, Lucas Julian Beaney, Garrett M. Becker, Maryann Brittany Beckloff, Tajinder Paul Bhinder, Kimberly Ann Bienkowski, Edward Elias Blinderm an, Jezy Boado, Kurt David Boiselle, Clarissa Bonilla, Trent Douglas Brennan, Patrick Ryan Brown, Colleen Crin Campbell, Samantha Leigh Capozza, Pamela Alexandra Carbajal, Lauren Christine Carboni, Matthew P. Carlson, Dwayne D. Carvery, Kyle N. Chapman, Sarah Katherine Close, Maghan Coiro, Daniel James Collins, Jenna Lyn Collins, Tyler Elizabeth Conderino, Jacob Scott Coombe, Kevin Christopher Cosgrove, Jennifer Lee Cote, Morgan Raelene Craddoc, Megan Creevy, Garret B. Crusan, Brissett Cuadros, James Patrick Culbertson, Eric Lewis Culp, Justin Daniels, Meghan Earhart Danley, Nicolas F. David, Calvin Dawson Dedrick, Kaylee Bridgett Deer, Michael Delossantos, David Michael DeNoia.
Robyn Anne DeSalvo, Emily Ruth Diana, Jonathan Luis DiClementi, Michael Patrick Doherty, Cassidy Leah Donovan, Katherine Erin Douglas, Jessica Lynne Douton, Timothy Dakota Dunn, Megan Ashley Duplice, Melanie Andrea Edson, Bree Ann Elliott, Clancy Emanuel, Zachary Emanuel, Lindsay Elizabeth Emblidge, Zofia Elizabeth Fal, Anthony John Farrell, Brittney Ingrid Feeney, Molly Margaret Fillion, Stephen James Foley, Tyler S. T. Fortier, Joseph C. D. Frye, Daisy Gertrudis Garcia, Nicholas Spinnato Gessner, Megan Lynn Giusti, Brittany Dawn Gladden, Lillian Annette Glynos, Hannah Goldstein, Alex Rafael Graciano, Katlyn Gran, Nicholas Leonard Granell, Jared R. Green, Peter Michael Guarino, Halim J. Hage, Nicole Kathryn Haggan, Patricia Cassidy Haire, Erik A. Hamler, Jessica Harran, Samuel G. Heist, Jonathan James Henderson, Megan Leigh Hessling, Misty Dawn Hines-Karnes, Hillary Kathlyn Hodge, Alexandria Elizabeth Holmes, Jaymee Holt, Carey Marie Hotsky, Yun-Ming Hu, Austin Hunt, Matthew James Irvine, Laura Joan Jacques, Brittany Nicole Jamon, Tessa A. Jardine, Ashley Ann Johnson, Danielle Lynn Johnson, Katherine Cetra Johnson.
Ryan J. Kirsch, Casey Elias Kneeland, Rachel Eden Kriet, Gregory Robert Kronisch, Nicholas John Kurzawa, Sarah Jane Labrecque, Nolan Francis LaLima, Anna Lance, Kayla Marie Lanphear-Tripp, Julie Ann Lavoie, Ellen Victoria Lehet, Jennifer Ashley Losacano, Javier Orlando Martino, Scott Patrick May, Jonathan C. Maynard, Cole E. McCahill, Morganne Emily McCarthy, Ian McCord, Matthew Scott McNeil, Matthew Arthur McNichol, Autumn L. Mekkelsen, Claudio A. Melendez-Cooper, Joseph Sawyer Mezzarana, Erin Catherine Miller, Kaleigh Marie Mitchell, Joshua James Morency, Shalisha D. Mosley, Joshua N. Muckle, Carver Anne Murphy, Joseph S. Murphy, Kaitlyn Marie Murphy, Nhut Quang Nguyen, Alexis J. Niedzielski, Olivia Rose Norris, Madison Anne Noyes, Michael John Nykyforchyn, Caitlyn E. O'Loughlin, Miranda May Olsen, Tuesday L. Page, Tandi Louise Palmer, Eleana Marie Panagos, Jacob Thomas Parrish, Bindi P. Patel, Jennifer Ryann Patten, Shelby Rae Patton, Adam Thomas Peed, Krista Marie Peltier, Samantha Nicole Pendleton, Zackary Hugh Perry, Dante A. Pezzolesi, Salvatore Pezzolesi, Evan J. Pias, Briana Janine Picardi, Darien A. Pittman, Haley Lois Polizzi, Monica Lynne Provost, Richard Kendros Purdy, Richard A. Redmond III, Andrew Reed, Ryan P. Riske, Tyrell L. Robinson, Andrea Frances Rogers, Patrick John Rogers, Griselidys Rosario, Lidys Grisel Rosario, Selena Michelle Roy, Samantha Jeanne Ryan, Jessica Lynn Ryder, David Joseph Salzer, Salvatore Stephen Santangelo, Eric T. Sargent, Emma Q. Sayles, Molly Anne Sayles, Sandy Scarpa, Kevin Michael Schlink, Artur A. Shapiro, Roman Shapiro, Daniel C. Shaw, Daniel M. Shea IV, Reid Bennett Sherwin, Daniel Patrick Shine, Sara Marie Silva, Jordan Joseph Silvestri, Joel Benjamin Simonson, George Thomas Sinclair, Kristi Slocum, Joseph M. Smith.
Mariah Marie Sobiech, Caitlyn Elizabeth Sotiropoulos, Nicholas Provatas Spanos, Kelli Lynn Spellman, Stephanie Marie Spera, Samantha Sterenchock, Haley K. Stino, Helen Nuria Stockman, John Frederick Stockman, Tyler Edward Stoddard, Michael Jay Strollo, Matthew Lawrence Stoneski, Silas Daniel Stygar, Samarth Suresh, Janelle Marie Swafford, Felicia Swaney, Jake Swanson, Katelyn Christina Sykora, Matthew Ryan Tarantino, Catherine Taveras, Brooke Helen Tomasetti, Taylor Anne Tomasetti, Andrew Clifford Tomlinson, Robyn Hope Tone-Pah-Hote, Tristan Clark Tonge, Maria Crystal Torraco, Julio Angel Torres-Santiago,. Bethany Rose Toutant, Kathryn Tuneski, Cristina Leigh Turley, Davonta T. Valentine, Zoe Vann, Briana VanVerdeghem, Leanne Marie Velazquez, Kimberly Marie Vetal, Nathan Vigneau, Kayla Marie Virga, Nyasa M. Wade, Robert Daniel Walsh, Jestine Rheanna Ward, Samantha Nicole Ward, Erica Hope Weiner, Kyle Murray Wells, Emma Jane Wertheimer, Colin Daniel Witt, Shuyu Maria Xing, Keely Stevenson Yarish, Emily Nian-Tzi Yu, Frank Zhang, Bingyao Zhou, Hamza Zikriya, Matthew Holden Zimmer, Jerry Joseph Zoubek.