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Norwich — Norwich Free Academy graduate Brian Reyes admitted history wasn't always his strongest subject, but he drew several lessons from history classes Friday to give fellow classmates a push into the future.
"And as we, the Class of 2012, go forward into our own history, let us make it our mission to make it special," Reyes, the class speaker, said. "To continue the good will, the good work and the goodness we learned here at NFA. We can only be special if we find it in our hearts to do special deeds for others."
Reyes praised his history teachers for relating experiences in those classes not found in textbooks, including visits from "survivors who suffered and endured unfathomable struggles, overcoming severe trials and tragedies with the power of the human spirit."
Reyes was among the 549 graduates who crossed the sun-drenched NFA athletic field Friday — it hasn't rained on an NFA graduation in 20 or more years — for the school's 154th commencement exercise. Cheers sprang up from all points of the oval surrounding the field as well as from the packed — and unshaded — bleachers across from the stage.
Adeline Nelson, her husband, Reynold Nelson, and daughters Laura and Patricia quickly retreated to the shade provided by the Alumni Gym as they waited to see Robinson Nelson.
"I'm so proud of him," mom Adeline Nelson said as she welcomed a cool breeze in the shade. "He's a good boy."
Class Ivy Orator David Lyon loved his Advanced Placement English and global studies classes enough to make them the centerpiece of his address to classmates. But while NFA courses introduced him to cultures of the world, the school also gave him a chance to visit one, he said.
"My favorite memories focus on experiences like the day that I climbed all over the small Italian city of Urbino and put my limited knowledge of the Italian language to good use. Scenes like these, for me, mark the most important parts of my education."
He then turned to "the real world," calling it alternately the promise or threat given to high school students of the future ahead, when they all will have jobs and responsibilities.
"In the coming years, we're going to have more and more opportunities to look at the world without the filters that our families, educators and society have set before us, and we shouldn't miss out on them," Lyon said.
NFA continued its annual tradition Friday of inviting the graduating class of 50 years ago to participate in this year's ceremony. Seventy-three members of that class marched onto the field accompanied by bagpipes and escorted by NFA faculty.
Norwich attorney Stanley Lucas addressed the 2012 graduates with a dose of that reality Lyon hinted would soon come. After high school, Lucas became a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Vietnam War.
In these times of multitasking and electronic distractions, Lucas urged the graduates to be single-focused when it came to tackling tasks at hand.
"If you concentrate solely on that and do your best job," Lucas said, "you will achieve the best results."
Theresse Weigand-Watkinson of Norwich thought she may have started a new graduation trend. Theresse, who will enter seventh grade next year in home school, stayed up late Thursday night making a large, bright pink and decorated sign for her friend and dancing buddy and NFA graduate Jezzamyn Grace of Norwich.
"Way to Go Jezz! We Love You," the sign read.
While dozens of balloons of all sizes fluttered in the breeze, there were few signs to greet the graduates as they marched across the field.
"Someone behind me said, 'Oh, we should have made a sign,'" Theresse said.
Jorge Luis Alarcon Sayago, Arabella India Aldrich , Kelsey Bernice Allard, Antone Joseph Almeida, Fouad Raymond Al-Rijleh, Khadejeh Magdaleine Al-Rijleh, Kristie Lee Andersen, Queen Linda Ester Anderson, Michael Eric Anderson-Eldredge, Ivy Elizabeth Armstrong, Cassandra Elizabeth Arpin, Alena Marie Austin, Jasmine Teresa Avci, Sarah Elizabeth Avery, Gaspar Lucas Avila, Jonathan Scott Babb Jr., Jesse Lee Babbitt, Yana Joy Babbitt, MaCayla Corin Baker, Mackenzie Quinn Baker, Kailey Storm Balducci, Kathryn Valentine Baller, Alexis Rae Ballirano, Samantha Anne Barile, Charlton Elston Barnes, Bryton Joseph Barnhill, Desirae Dorothea Barrett, Stacey Mae Barrows, Kaila Marcia Jane Bartha, Caroline Marie Beasley, Tyler Allyn Benson, Sarah Lydia Bentley, Alexandra Renee Bernier, Felicia Marie Betancourt, Shannon Rose Bialowas, Evan Richard Bilda, Johnny Phillip Blanchard Jr., Alexandra Evelyn Blanchette, Devante Shay Blanco, Dylen Ray Blazick, Jessie Lynn Bodington, Letisha Reva Boucher, Dexter Samantha Braatz, Daniel Steven Brannen, Caitlin Ashley Brehart, Drew David Brigner, Daniel Michael Brine, Shataya Samantha Brisbane, Justin Liam Brisson, Cathleen Elizabeth Brown, Dylan Heath Brown, Sarah Louise Brown , Lauren Skylar Bruegmann, Cormac Michael James Buchman, Andrew William Buddington and Lyndsey Elizabeth Buffin.
Also: Jordan Manuel Cagle, Darien Corbin Capunitan, Amanda Josephine Caracoglia, Daniel James Cardin, Carminda Cardoso, Jacqueline Elizabeth Cardoza, Olivia Irene Carignan, Anthony Julius Caruso, Caitlin Bernice Caruso, Jesenia Marie Casiano Baez, Sarah Ashley Castleberry, David Frederick Cedrone, Daniel Travis Cellucci, Octavia Monet Chambers, Rashid Changeux, Jessica Rose Charette, Rutherly Charlot, Ruvitha Charlot, Tessa Elizabeth Chattelle, Henry Chen, Meggy Chen, Peggy Chen, Yilun Chen, Jennifer Jean Chick, Gabrielle Frances Chinigo, Brian Phosay Chitpanya, Nabil Rakib Chowdhoury, Danielle Lorraine Ciccotti, Casey Nichole Ciesla, Joseph Anthony Ciriello, Adam John Clark, Theresa Katherine Claudio, Morgan Lane Clendennin, Valyncia Kendra Clifton, Bowen Alexander Coburn, Alyssa Nicole Coffey, Renee Noelle Colbath, Kate Mary Combies, Daniel Charles Conner, Devon Brian Connolly, Addison Rick Contreras, Jane Alexandra Conway.
Also: Lillian Moriah Cook, Hannah Lee Coombs, Tystasia Celes Corbin, Alexander Cordero, Tyler David Cormier, Jessica Danyelle Cote-Michaud, Colleen Faith Cournoyer, Daijon Jamal Covey, William Abraham Cox, Connor Patric Curland, Eli Curry, Monique Caroline Dabdoub, Ian David Dakers, Courtney Michelle Danieluk, Ce'nedra Raquel Darragh, Jennifer Esthermae Dart, Katelyn Elaine Davis, Astrid Carolina de la Nuez, Hanna Fern Deglin, Jonathan William Del Core, Mackenzie Paige Delaney, Judex Scardy Delmas, Christopher Joseph Delucia, Travis James Demanche, Dino Joao Depina, Emily Elizabeth Depina, Nelo Barros Depina, John James Dewaine, Jarrel Diaz, Robert Matthews Dillon, Eric Anthony Dimalanta, Amanda Lynn Diskin, Amber Wray Dixon, Kyle Darith Doak, Andrew James Domin, Christie Marie Dooley, Jennifer Alexandra-Sa Dornis, Philip Carnel Dozier, Victoria Angelica Drake, Devonna Monai Duarte, Briana Ashly Dubois, Amber Nicole Dugan, Amber Ayana Dunbar, Sina Sara Duncan, Xavier Jared Dunn, Spencer Dupont and Hayley Elaine Durand.
Also: Nathaniel Solomon Eckenrode, Laura Marie Einhellig, William John Einhellig, Cole Ryan Eldridge, Evan Wayne Elkins, Jared Robert Ensling, Jessica Ann Epstein, Zachary Emmet Eslick, Michael Jomar Estrada, Beren Richard Evans, Trever Charles Evert, Aaron Richard Evrett, Eliram Farjoun, Amanda Lyn Favro, Xiaomei Feng , Ashley Erica Elizabeth Ferando-Ridenour, Dejohn Keevon Fernandes, Natalie Lynn Field, Felicia Madonna Filiatreault, Lindsay Erin Fisher, Sarah Marie Flaherty, Daniel Ian Fleet, Michayla Brooke Florence, Philip Michael Flowers Jr., Bessie Fong, Emma Irene Fontaine, David Gonzales Franco, Alyssa Nicole Fratoni, Derek Ellwyn French, Elizabeth French, Chelsea Rose Freyer, Christopher John Fritz, Bryel Aryana Fyfe, Ethan Gagnon, Rachael Rae Gahner, Michael Gaitan, Kaila Justine Galinat, Carlos Xavier Garcia, Joseph Earl Gardner, Karlie Valentine Gaston, Trent Michael Gauthier, Jenna Sandra Genest, Chandler Scott Gentillon, Xylecia Nyshay Gentry, Sydney-Renee George, Smith Georges, Devon Michael Giannelli.
Also: Danielle Berthe Giroux, Olivia Helene Giroux, Colin Pilkington Gladue, Melissa Alice Godere, Elizabeth Carys Gonzalez, Joshua Gonzalez, Michael Anthony Gonzalez, Tonay Antonia Gooday-Ervin, Lauren Marie Grabarek, Jezzamyn Alexandra Grace, Justin Morgan Gran, Nicholas Dominic Green, Dajanee Michelle Greenaway, Amanda Gibbons Gregg, Emily Marie Grenier, Benjamin Michael Griffes, Naiyma Aniysa Griffin, Alexander James Grillo, Kangde Gu , Jose Miguel Guigni, Luis Miguel Guigni, Chase Dennis Guillemette, Anthony Guo, Lukas Joseph Hage, Nicholas Jae Hamby, Andrea Patricia Hammon, Sapphire Sheherzad Hanif, Julia Jeanette Hansen, Dylan James Harley, Victoria Ruth Hatos, Cornell Lamont Haywood Jr., Aimee Catherine Hebert, Nicole Anne Hebert, Charlotte Nicole Herz, Luke Arlinghaus Heyse, Mariah Love Hicks, Kathryn Regina Hill, Hannah Elizabeth Hinsch, Richard Thomas Hogshead, Katherine Elizabeth Holdridge, Lauren Taylor Holland, Chase Devin Holmes, Thong Gia Hong, Avery Lynn Hopkins, Jason Jay Horton, Thomas Jeffery Houghton, Katelynn Carmen Houser, Abbie L. Howard, Bethany Rose Hull, George Francis Hutnan and Evan William Hyde.
Also: Nicholas Adam Iannone, Peter Al Inverso, Rebecca Lynn Jacaruso, Evan Kenneth Jambor, Johanna Jean, Xuancheng Jiang, Jeffrey Karl Jicha, Jillian Grace Johnson, Kayla Noel Johnson, Shayla Rashell Johnson, Tajai Devhon Johnson, Michael A. Jolly Jr., Meredyth Ellen Joly, Javhon Jamaul Jones, Kelsey Lyn Jones, Matthew Michael Jacob Jordan, Mikayla Erin Joseph, Andre Alexander Joyner, Ryan Matthew Kalla, Brianna Shanti Kantharaj, Sijju Karki, Jessica Geraldine Kearney, Hannah Margaret Knight, Michelle Kolodziejczak, Har Weng Kong, Alexis Anne Koronkiewicz, William Nicholas Kostelos, Karley Margaret Krodel, Anna Elizabeth Kudej, Sherab Dolma Kunga, Elizabeth Ann Laboy, Brian Thomas Lacombe, Kierstin Rose Ladd, Jeffrey Lang, Schuyler Michelle Laparle, Eric LaPorte, Megan Katherine LaPorte, Alexander David Lara, Alyssa Marie Larkham, Jacob Clyde Lathrop, Julie Elaine Laudon, Alexander Lavoie, Katelynn Marie Leblanc, Nathan Daniel Leclair, Jocelino Rodrigues Ledo Depina, Leoness Jael Leon, Kaylyn Avery Levine, Tyler Allen Lewerenz, Tenzin Lhabu, Na Li, Adam Joseph Lisiewski, Sara Kailei Loizou, Iris Dayana Lopez Garcia, Rachel Abigail Lord, Ashley Danielle Lorinsky, Nicole Marie Lorinsky, Hannah Christine Lounsbury, Alexis Nicole Luft, Kendra M. Lumadue, Stephanie Ann Lussier, Joseph Peter Lussier III, Matthew Daniel Lynch and David Lyon.
Also: Kayla Elizabeth MacPhail, Chelsea Kyung Mee Magrey, Zachary Ryan Maitland, Samantha Lynn Majcher, Michael Andre Malone, Devin John Manfredi, Meagan May Marino, Dylan Joseph Markey, Keefer Brandon Marler, Alexandra Mars, Denyce Marie Martell, Robert Tyshawn Martin, Ryan Alexander Massey, Wilfredo Matos, Hannah Kathleen Mattos, Rachel Jeanne Mazurek, Conor Kennedy McArdle, Shaylea Ann McAvay, Brieanne Elizabeth McAvoy, Matthew Evan McCullough, Christian Gerard McDonough, Paige Morgan McElroy, Danielle Nichole McGowen, Meriah Lynn McLain, Hannah Marie McNomee, Courtney Lynn McQueen, Jian Nan Mei, Terry Mei, Deborah Carolina Mendoza, Patrick Christopher Messick, David Ryan Michaud, Ashley Rose Migliaccio, David Andrew Miller, Terri Lee Miller, Andrew Paul Milnarik, Marissa Ann Minor, Hunter Sage Molcan, Chadler Alan Mondor, Zasha Marie Montalvo, Erin Nicole Moore, Jezenia Morales, Colton Kenneth Morell, Katarina Harley Moroch, Evan Daniel Morse, Zachary Quinn Morse, Sean Tiahra Moufa, Nathali Marie Munera, Cody Jean Murphy, Shannon Nicole Murphy, Thomas John Murphy, Michaela Catherine Murray and Sylvia Christine Musial.
Also: Robinson Kyle Nelson, Gavin Andrew Neuendorf, Corey James Nevins, Samantha Ann Nichols, Esther Noel, Tyler Ryan Novick, Raymond Joseph Nystrom, Shannon Hurley O'Connor, Brendan Thomas O'Farrell, Leighanne Qiaohuan Ormston, Conor Emmett O'Rourke, Alexander Ortiz, Uriel Ortiz, Rebecca Eugenia Oswald, Cynthia Marie Oudkerk, Nicholas Paul Ouellet, Jeremy Pacheco, Alexandra Lynne Pacifico, Susan Lee Palmer, Mary Luz Victoria Palomino, Kelsey Leigh Panek, Timothy Peter Panzarella, Annette Pasqualini, Damini Bhavesh Patel, Trushnaben Sureshbhai Patel, Troy Roland Patterson, Nickole Lee Pease, Alexander Michael Peckham, Karissa Nicole Pellegrini, Hannah Sharon Perkins, Joshua Anthony Peters, Caitland Marie Pina, Jill Katherine Pirie, Daniel John Pisowloski, Dominique Lynne Pizzo, Destiny Jean Platz, Rebecca Aimee Poirier, Stefano Michele Poletti, Michael Lee Poole, Joyce Poon, Abagail Rose Postler, Alexander Potts, Jean-Philip Lionel Precourt, Eleni Anastsia Provatas and Nicholas Tyler Provau.
Also: Kathryn Parker Rablen, Zachary Jordan Race, Briana Leigh Ramirez, Anuj Hasmukh Raval, Nicholas Harrison Rayment, Genevieve June Remondi, Brian Reyes, Aracely Reyes Velasco, Alyssa Christine Reynolds, Sydney Alexandra Rice, Barbara Carolina Richard, Daniel John Riley, William Cody Roberts, David Earle Roderick, Fernando Andres Rodriguez, Julian Rodriguez, Romer Rodrigo Rodriguez, Emily Xue Yuan Roe, Emma Jane Rollinson, Martha Elizabeth Rollinson, Nicholas Outay Roman, Carol Cathleen Roper, Steffi Soledad Rosas, Brittany Elizabeth Rothholz, Stephanie Ruiz-Soto, Tashawna Simone Ruley, Rachel Mary Russi, Christian Charles Salley, Bethany Lynn Salvemini, Emma Margaret Sanchi, Kelly Sanon, Andrew Santos, Deanna Marie Santos, Tiffany Lily Saythany, Brianna Sophia Scalesse, Emily Marie Scarpa, Lloyd Francis Schramm, Gavin Darren Schriever, Connor Timothy Schulz, Gitann Crencisia Scully, Jovaun Ricardo Scully, Emily Semmelrock, Lindsay Mary Serabian, Jessica Seto, Ali Abbas Shah, Jade Lee Shank, Johnathan James Sharp, Samantha Willow Shelto, Justin Michael Simpson, Allura Jayne Sitter, Hannah Ruth Slane, Sarah Margaret Slocum, Bianca Jaa'nee Smith, Cathleen Hall Smith, Isaiah Emmanuel Smith, Kyle Benjamin Smith, Shayonna Nichole Smith, Sydney Marie Smith, Rebecca Lynn Smolenski, Victoria Anne Smolenski, Kendra Lynn Smullen, Yiliana Soler Rodriguez, Jesly Souvenance, Joshua Jerry Spring, Jeannette St. Amour, Kaitlyn Minzy St. Germain, Christian Lee Stamm, Katya Blue Stanley, Devin Dempsey Stanton, Jeffrey Steiner, Kevin Thomas Stiles, Mariah Lee Stoddard, Erin Elizabeth Stolpe, Katherine Elizabeth Stone, Shantel Diane Stone, Alana Maria Stromer, Allison Ann Sullivan, Eleanor Rose Sullivan, Samantha Nicole Sullivan, Karen Sung and Paige Richelle Supples.
Also: Nicholas John Tague, Daniel Driscoll Tamborra, Mercedes Anne Tatro, Zachary Charles Taylor, Luis Tello, Ana Elena Tepale-Mejia, Emmett Patrick Tetreault, Noelle Suzanne Thibeault, Joe David Thomason III, Andrew Arthur Thompson, R. Tyler Thompson, Jasmine Nicole Tolliver, Nichole Alexandra Ton, Jackson Keith Tonnesen, Krystell Marie Torres, Samantha Torres, Tiffany Ortiz Torres, Deymarie Torres Gonzalez, Kevin Marcial Torvisco, Katherine Milagros Torvisco Aycho, Lidia A. Toumas, Vladislav Olegovich Trebukhov, Daniel Urbinati, Aaron Travis Uterstaedt, Rigoberto David Valadez, Ana D. Vargas, Jessica Lee Vargas, Mianair Vargas Rivera, Jessica Andrea Velasquez, Charmaine Velez, Alexandria Marie Velte, Skye Marie Venter, Manuel Villarini, Chad Beale Vincent, Natalie Marie Violette, Taylor Claire Vlaun and Dang Song Vo Tran.
Also: Brian Michael Wagner, Zana Marshaya Walker, Ashley Erin Wardwell, Joseph Richard Warhurst, Kala Kristina Warren, Erik James Washburn, Matthew Fisher Watkins, Raleigh Anna Weese, Andrew Joseph Weiler, Savannah Lauren Wells, Zachary John Wesolek, Carli White, Kaitlin Aileen Whitmore, Erika Elaine Williams, Jenae Rachelle Williams, Juwan Giovanni Williams, Katelyn Belva Williams, Matthew Christopher Williams, Michael Scott Wilson, Nathan Quinn Wilson, Breanna Lynn Winstead, Evangeline Wong, Jiajun Ximu, John William Yackovetsky, Devon Leigh York, Kai Hang Zeng, Nicholas David Zevetchin, Andy Zhao.