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Montville — Brig. Gen. John T. Quintas has spent nearly 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, and for more than two of those years, he carried out a mission unlike any other.
Quintas worked as a military aide to President George W. Bush. On a regular basis, he carried what is known as the “nuclear football,” a briefcase with contents that allow the president to authorize a nuclear attack.
On Friday night, under a gorgeous sunset on the Montville High School football field, Quintas told the graduates of the Class of 2012 that he owes a great deal of his success to his experience as a student in the Montville public schools.
“It was the education I received here that prepared me,” said Quintas, a 1984 Montville High grad and the keynote speaker Friday. “There’s nothing I’d like more than for you to have the fulfilling experience that I’ve had.”
Graduates will soon have their chance. At the 48th commencement ceremony, a standing-room only crowd filled the bleachers outside the football field and many parents and supporters offered shout outs to students as they filed in and later received their diplomas. A memorable scene was set as many graduates’ caps, decorated with glitter, reflected in the setting sun.
Class President Christiana Ciaudelli urged the 197 graduates to live the night in the moment and to realize it was the last time they would all be together.
She turned to the words of Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, to offer some perspective as they all move forward.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work,” Ciaudelli told her fellow classmates as she quoted Jobs. “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”
Class Valedictorian Tendai Chisowa shared her story of coming from Zambia to Montville and living with the help of food stamps as her family settled in the country. She thanked all the teachers and others who helped students reach their potential.
“As we seek personal success, it is important to remember the world around us,” said Chisowa, who added she is the first African American valedictorian in school history. “The value of a man is measured by how much he contributes to the world.”
Quintas, a decorated officer who has been a commander in Afghanistan, was the last speaker and finished his remarks by urging students to concentrate on upholding their personal integrity and improving the lives of others.
He shared a quote from John F. Kennedy — “One person can make a difference and everyone should try” — a few moments before students made their way to the stage to make the end of their high school careers official.
“Don’t measure your life by how much money you have,” Quintas said. “Who have you touched? Have you made people happier? Make sure you serve a cause that is greater than yourself.”
Katerina Chantel Adams, Daniel Winston Alfred, Dylan Michael Anderson, Jason Joseph Avery, Cheyenne Olivia Baker, Donovan William Lee Baker Jr., Hannah Jane Balsley, Devin Scott Bedard, Alexander Rey Beetham, Nicolas James Bellerose, Nicholas John Bemis, Corey Christopher Bicknell, Kimberly Dawn Bigelow, Grace Carol Bozsum, Brian Matthew Bradham, Kellie McKenzie Brennan, Mikayla Jo Briggs, Emmett Harrison Brown, Jeffrey Allen Brown Jr., George Nolan Burch III, Taylor Alexis Marie Burrows, Taylor Elizabeth Callghan, Carlie Nicole Cave, Love Andrelaine Caze, Tecumseh Running Fox Champlain, Ming Feng Chen, Shuo Chen, Delek Cheokey, Tendai Chisowa, Christiana Ciaudelli, Matthew Ward Cicchese, Anthony Richard Clang, Lauren Janice Clark, Matthew Thomas Clark, John Robert Coggeshall, Taylor Marie Colgan, Molly Olivia Comforti, Gabriel Rafe Commons, Jonathan David Conover, Elise Marie Couillard, Gabrielle Alexis Crawley, Patrick Cronin, Rachael Lauren Cuff, Laurel Raine Cummings, Justin Everett Curio, Shannon Elizabeth Curio and Lauren Elisabeth Curry-Castle.
Also: Johnathan David Damato, Ashley Marie Danao, Taylor Colby Daniels, James Henry Darney, Brandon John Debbis, Olivia Marie Deschenes, Adam Michael Deshefy, Ruben Zavier Diaz, III, Nina Louise DiCocco, Roy Cannon Dohna, Kelly Joy Duso, Justin Thomas Edwards, Abigail Elizabeth Engelgau, Rachel Marie Evrett, Alexandra Monet Favret, Vivian Lee Ferreira, Jonathan Wesley Fletcher, Jessica Danielle Fortenberry, Jessica Rose Fox, Kyler Stephen Fricke, Richard James Gagnier Jr., Lauren Emily Gallimore, Qing Ge, Amanda Michelle Giroux, Richard Dru Gittens, Stefanie Patricia Giulietti, Orlando Gonzalez III, Travis John Goodling, Aaron Donald Grigg, Trayvon William Griggs, William Staphan Griggs and Tyler John Guetens.
Also: Christina Elizabeth Hagerty, Maximillian Edward Hart, Jordan Lynne Hartman, Peter Joseph Heavenor Jr., Aaron Joseph Henderson, Robert Christopher Hertle, Lauren Elaine Hess, Ryan Paul Hewitt, Anna Bond Hilbie, Joshua William Hill, Christian Trevor Sean Hillyer, Mackenzie Dean Hotchkiss, JunTao Huang, McKinley Catherine Jacobson-Loftis, Ashley Noelle Jacques, Kayla Ann Jacques, Anne Sanders Jeon, Sean Phillip Johns, Brandon Scott Johnson, Kevin Alexander Jones, Stevenson Rochelle Jones, Jr., Eni Kamburi, Charles Eric Keeney, Timothy David Keryc, Tenzin Khando, Nicholas Allen Kinder, Rebecca Kimo Kopecinski, Abagail Dawn Krucek, Miranda Lee Kumpf, Daniel Albert Kurasz, Alysia Louise Larkie, Tiffany Lynn Lathrop, Choezin Lhamo, Alan Liang, Christopher Mark Longo, Nicholas James Longo, Meagan Elizabeth Lopez, Richard Alan Lusk Jr. and Zachary Paul Lutzen.
Also: Terrance Mitch Maher, Stacey Elizabeth Mailhiot, Patricia Anne Makowski, Crystal Ashley Manville, Brittany Ruth Marceau, Lilly Mae Markovitz, Sean Michael Martin, Robert Jermaine McCray Jr., Connor O’Neill McDermott, Brittany Carin McGrath, Rachael Lee McShane, Grant Mei, Tatiana Isabel Mercado, Lakota Marie Milefski, Christopher Robert Mileski, Brittany Taylor Moore, Heather Margaret Muir, Jamie Lynn Murphy, Matthew Albert Navetta, Bianca Riley Nieves, Allison Katherine Occhialini, Cleora Luhong Ohar, Brett Michael Orzechowski, Sydney Roberta Pender, Keith Christian Peterson, Serena Love Petrowski, Jake Alexander Piersa, Brittany Lynn Preble, Ayla Marie Presby and Carley Ann Prokop.
Also: Torin Holt Radicioni, Sean Derek Rahusen, Heather Jackson Reeves, Kyle Patrick Richardson, John Elijah Rodgers, Alexander Ryan Rodriguez, Samantha Nicole Ryder, Katie Olivia St. Denis, Kerri Ann St. Denis, Robbie Mikle Savage, Jr., Alexus Marie Scovish, Rachael Lynn Scovish, Nurbu Thandu Sherpa, Emily Jean Slade, Shane Edward Smith, Katlyn Paige Solarek, Emily Nicole Sorenson, Mario Jose Soriano Mendoza, Shawn Franklin Sprouse, Caitlyn Sarah Stewart, Kimberley Beatrice Stewart, Michael Anthony Stiefel, Kenneth Paul Strecker, Timothy Michael Summers and Erin Elizabeth Sweeney.
Also: Jessica Woodman Tang, Rachel Marie Tanner, Scott Troy Tedford, Madeline Rose Trahan, Jaimie Marie Traystman, Jessica Tryon, Kenneth Aubrey VanWinkle II, Jarrod William Varney, Angelina Marie Vasington, Jorge Benjamin Verde, Felicia Ashley Amber Vine, Torey Ann Vine, Jason Robert Volpe, Brian Donovan Wade, Shatajah Latriece Wattely, Tiffany Ann Wieczorek, Corey Dalton Wilcox, Jessica Veronica Wilcox, Zachary Taylor Wilkens, Jacob Dennis Wilkerson, WaiShing Wong, Elizabeth Marie Woods, Tiffany Young and Yuchen Zhao.