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Old Lyme - The venue name couldn't have been more appropriate for what the gathered friends and family have for the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 2011.
Administrators and graduates of LOLHS, recently ranked the second-best high school in the state, proceeded into the large horse barn at the High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center Friday evening to the thunderous approval of those gathered.
The "pomp and circumstance" was for a class that lives by the motto "go big or go home," class President Mary Sterling Rountree said.
"Big is a target that grows and moves," Rountree said. "Today, going big is walking across this stage."
As the graduates prepared to move on, high school Principal James Wygonik reminded them that 10 minutes is all it takes to make a difference in their own lives and in their world.
"Don't change, continue the great work you've started here, even if only 10 minutes a day," he said.
But it was the construction that had moved the graduation ceremony out of the school that guided valedictorian Hannah Trautmann's speech.
She told of the three instances over their grade and high school careers that the Class of 2011 had been displaced by construction, including their senior year.
"These years have been the construction of ourselves," Trautmann said. "When we began, our brains were full with the building blocks of education, like the high school has its foundation."
There are simple lessons learned from the construction and their educations, she said.
"Plan ahead: don't take the first stairwell because you will get stuck, and it will suck," she joked. "We will endure and persevere."
Commencement speaker Marsha Folger, a high school science teacher, spoke of the big, and small, things people do to make a difference in their everyday lives.
"Getting into college is a big thing; thanking the people that helped you get there, is a small thing," she said.
Folger followed up her speech with "one more chemical reaction."
"I see the firemen are here," she quipped, before lighting a sparkler for the Class of 2011.
"Keep that sparkle in your eyes," Folger told her departing students.
James Rhodes, who will head to Wagner College in New York in the fall, said before the ceremony that he was proud of the Class of 2011, in which he'd made lifelong friends.
"It's definitely incredible, I never thought it would go so fast," Rhodes said. "It's electric, bittersweet, but I'm happy it's here."
Jesse Spencer Abbott, Dylan Everett Allen, Monaf Awwa, Elizabeth Willson Bagdorf, Madeleine Marie-Louise Barclay, Colin Quinn Basler, Elise Christine Beauprez, David Hayden Berggren, Bradley Chapman Berry, Laura Michele Bigiarelli, Erin Emiko Buerger, Garrett Donald Bureau, Alina Vida Byrne, Conor Wadsworth Cahill, Christopher Ryan Carnese, Nicole Alexandra Caulkins, Jennifer Martha Chapman, Shannon Catherine Chapman, Kathryn Margaret Chmielewski, Kali Ariel Cika, Patrick John Cole, Patrick Joseph Collins, Kathleen Francis Comerford, Nicholas Brandon Davidson, Megan Ann Davis, Elissa Franklin DeBruyn, Leticia Melinda Denoya, Marissa Ann DePaulo, Anna Angelica Dexter, Alexander Roderick Duxbury, Marc Sigmund Evankow, Salvatore Fava, Samantha Sage Fecher, Zachary David Flagge, Liam Carlos Forstein, Christopher John Foy;
Morgan Prior Gaffey, Nicole Rossi Garbati, Sally Anne Garland, Alexander James Garreffi, Iris Paulina Garrison, Sarah Brigitte Gaudio, Celeste Renay Gavin, David Jeoffery Gilchrist, Jonah Emil Godfrey-Fogg, Taylor Kay Goucher, Andrew Kwang-Shik Groth, Alison Kate Haag, Amalia Kelly Hack, Patrick Dennis Hallahan, Emma Cole Hartmann, Sophia Georgianna Harvey, Alyssa Jo Hawthorne, India Mary Hayden, William Robert Herel, Alyssa Kathryn Jake, Heather Marie Johnson, Ashley Ann Kathe, Jeffrey Brian Keish, Evan Alexander Kirk, Dustin Andrew Lasky, Amanda Elaine Liefeld, Sean Ryan Loper, Tyler Robert Malcarne, Olivia Marie Male, Barbara Regina Massa, Julie Nicole Maynard, Tory Ann McKnight, Vanessa Linnea Mesham, Catherine Gabrielle Mezes, Courtney Shea Mossberg, Caroline Isabelle Muhsin, Raina Michelle Mullen, Anya Marie Mummert, John Kean-Roosevelt Norman, Alexandria Norman-Gohn, Anne Catherine Nyberg, Eoghan Art O'Connor;
Caitlin Elizabeth O'Neil, Megan Baker O'Neill, Kevin Biren Patel, Charles Morgan Peck, David Edmund Pegnataro, Priscilla Pollard Pitts, Tanya Renee Price, Danielle Marie Quintin, Elizabeth Ashley Rand, Caroline Patricia Rando, Matthew Scott Rasmussen, James Hunter Rhodes, Alexander Duncan Roberge, Leandro Lew Roca, Victoria Camilla Roca, Erin Elizabeth Ross, Mary Sterling Rountree, Troy Matthew Russell, Donald Albert Saunders, Ethan Joseph Schmidt, Matthew Herbert Searle, Elizabeth Leah Seidner, Avery Hannah Sharp, David Joseph Shoemaker, Lisa Tiffany Simiola, Angeline Maria Smith, Dylan F. Soares, Wyatt David Stanland, Christopher Thomas Strycharz, Harley Aric Sullivan, Hannah Binti Syed, Hailey Hall Thurrott, Nicole Anne Tiffany, Corey Petersen Todd, Christian Robert Tompkins, Yota Topalis, Alexandra Grace Trausch, Hannah Sarah Trautmann, Jacob John Turkowski, Stefani Janice Vaillancourt, Kayla Danielle VanVoorhies, Shanleye Marie Weismiller, Jeanette Christina Wilcox, Olivia Hellene Wilkie, Abbey Helen Wilkman, Benjamin Charles Wolfe, Charles Hodgins Wyatt, Samantha Ann Yuknat, Justin Robert Zabilansky, Alyssa Rae Zebrowski.