Under brilliant blue skies, the Branford High School Class of 2012 graduated from a grand stage at the steps of historic Town Hall to the cheers of capacity crowd filling the Town Green.
Graduates marched onto the Green wearing red gowns and caps decorated to reflect the individuality of just about each and every one of the 250 class members. The ceremony included the naming of the Class of 2012 valedictorian, Melissa Krieder, class salutatorian, Ziqi Wang, performance and graduation requirement valedictorian, Chris Marsala and Faculty Key Award winner Melissa Krieder.
Speakers included Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez, Board of Education Chair Frank Carrano, Class President Alison Johnson, and Commencement Address speaker Matthew Park, a Branford High School (BHS) science teacher elected by the class to give its commencement speech.
Before the presentation of diplomas, BHS Principal Lee Panagoulias, Jr., made note of another graduation speaker who recently made national headlines by telling the graduates they weren't particularly special. Panagoulias begged to differ, telling the Class of 2012 that, in the past four years, through many accomplishments and milestones as individuals, teams, performers, community service participants, and as a class in general, they had proven that they were indeed special.
Noting that graduating is a time of transition, Panagoulais urged the Class of 2012 to now "go out and become special on an even greater stage. Go out in Branford High School style and show the world how things can be."