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Old Saybrook - The stands of the Old Saybrook High School gymnasium were filled with screaming fans Friday, all snapping photos and smiling with pride. Yet, they weren't exactly sports fanatics there to cheer on the Rams. They were the parents, families and friends of the Class of 2011.
The graduating seniors faced the audience in neat rows of blue and white, each with a smile.
"I don't know about you, but I've never seen a finer looking class," salutatorian Shane Olsen said.
The audience roared as Principal Oliver Barton congratulated the seniors for 12 seasons of athletics, and the girls' soccer team for their success as semi-finalists in the state championship. He also commended the students for their community service, strong leadership and passion for change, which he thinks they do "because it feels good to do big things."
"You know what you love to do, and you do it with conviction," Barton said. "You take leadership roles, not to pad your resumes and college applications, but to make a difference."
Barton said that although he will miss the Class of 2011, he truly knows that they are really, really ready.
"You are those quiet leaders and doers of our corner of Connecticut," he said.
Guest speaker Salvatore Perruccio, who as an Old Saybrook Middle School psychologist has known the graduating seniors since they were in fourth grade, said, to some laughter, "They were nothing but a joy to me. They were a pain in the neck to others, but not to me."
Perruccio, although now retired, was eager to address the students. He equated life to a ladder, explaining to the students they will spend most of their lives trying to get to the top. Perruccio urged them to remember no matter what failures may come, since graduating elementary, middle and now high school, they "have already achieved three rungs on that ladder."
Valedictorian Caroline Bruno reflected on her days at OSH, and asked her classmates if there was just one day they would like to relive. She told them that although they may not realize it now, in time they will grow to miss the little things, whether it be the close bonds developed in high school or their parents' comfy couch.
"Old Saybrook is what links us now, and what will bring us back together at some point," she said.
Olsen told his peers that Old Saybrook is merely a starting point, that it's important to explore and learn from the rest of the world. He told the Class of 2011 to "go out and be the turtles of the world," encouraging them to not be afraid to "stick out your neck and see what's out there."
Chelsea Ann Abreu, Jessica E. Allen, Jared I. Arcari, Briana Elizabeth Bardos, Laura Carolyn Bean, Taylor Beck, Sarah Rachel Bell, Rachel Hope Berliner, Annmarie Eilish Bonin, Lawrence Paul Bonin Jr., Abigail Bravi, Preston Taylor Briggs, Ashley Elizabeth Brodeur, Jennifer Tess Brodeur, Nora Marie Brown, Caroline Winston Bruno, Kelly Rae Burke, Amy Burkhardt, Molly Burns.
Also: Alicia Elizabeth Cawley, Brandon Badrick Clark-Zachry, Trevor Coley, Kasey Commander, Mackenzie Margaret Burns Cook, Kimberly Mary Corning, Kelly Catherine Decerbo, Nicholas Sebastian DePalermo, Abigail Dunlap, Kristen Rose Endrizzi, Timothy Patrick Farrell, Joseph Michael Ferrantelli, Conor Finnegan, James FitzGerald, Jeffrey Gibas, Danielle Gibbs, Myles Gibbs, Lauren Catherine Groat, Haley Grunwald, Tessa Hansen, Andrew Harney, Thomas Heinssen, Kassandra Frost Henderson, Katherine Eileen Herrle, Mary Katherine Hoey, Alexandra Interlandi, Michael Izadi.
Also: Shannon Jorgensen, Daniel Judd, Ekarach Dylan Kedjumnong, John Henri King, Tenzin Kongpo, Katherine Blair Konishesky, Tenzin Choeden Lama, Christopher Lee, Emma Louise Loso, Erin Kay Lynch, Patrick Malin, June Margaret Manuel, Nina Marinelli, Adam Martino, Adam McDowell, John McElhone, Julia McKay, Garnet McLaughlin, Dillon McQuade, Jennifer Marie Michaud, Andrew Mill, Elizabeth Jane Morrison, Alexa Ann Moskowitz, Benjamin Allen Murdy, Ellen Murphy, Allison Marie Nagy, Alex Navarro, Michael Neas, Hannah Newton, Hannah Ellen Nochera, Shane T. Olsen, Nicole Lois Palmer, Gina Paolino, Matthew Voigt Pavlos, Matthew H. Penrose, Zachary John Philbrick, Ammasith Phrommavanh II, Andrew Norman Pierson, William Hutchinson Putnam III.
Also: Alexandra Redvers, Alyx Brendan Ricafranca, Alissa Rothman, Mark Rubano, Jennifer V. Ruth, Victoria Sanchez, Patrick Scarlett, Sarah Elizabeth Schuster, Nicholas Wallace Scott, Dylan Shaw, Michael J. Sheehan, Nicholas Simone, Gabriel Simoni, Sounida Sirisoukh, Patrick J.C. Slater, Tyler Smith, Anya Spaargaren, Emory Thomas, Zachary David Towne, Nicole Vigorita, Joseph Vilardi, William Christian Webb, Deanna Willbanks, Erica Williams, Ariel Wise-Rios, James Allan Wotherspoon, Tyler Jay Zanelli.