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Ledyard — In one of his very last acts as principal, Lou Gabordi addressed Ledyard High School's 204 graduating seniors Saturday night, providing them with a memory they're likely to cherish always, or at least remember for a while.
"Be forewarned," Gabordi said, prefacing his remarks. "It's a final homework assignment. ... Don't thank me now."
Gabordi, who's retiring after 37 years in the school system, the last five as principal of the high school, discussed what he called the critical state of political discourse in the country — the unwillingness to compromise, the increasing polarization of opinions.
"It has to stop," he told the Class of 2012. "You have to stop it."
His assignment, he said, was for members of the class to join with their counterparts in every other graduating class in the country in finding a solution.
He suggested where to start.
"Register to vote and vote in every election you can," Gabordi said. "There's no better way to thank veterans for what they've done for us."
And don't vote blindly, based merely on the letter in the parentheses that follows a candidate's name, Gabordi said. "Educate yourselves, access a variety of opinions, including those with which you don't agree. Share your opinions, but listen more.
"Consider running for office."
Gabordi, a 1971 graduate of the school, told students they should feel free to change their minds as they accumulate knowledge and experience, a process he said is known as learning.
"Accept or reject what I've said. Read, think, listen, reflect."
Elliott Pillsbury, the class president, and Robert Obey, the vice president, offered two pieces of advice. "First," Pillsbury said, "it is important to love each other. Never waste your time on animosity."
Added Obey, "Be true to yourself. Ask yourself what you want out of life."
Callie Bateman, the poet laureate, read "Outside These Walls," a poem she wrote for the yearbook, and joined classmates Megan Comstock and Kelly Nelson in delivering a Ledyard Scholar Address. Hayley Schneider and Jenna Farquhar gave individual scholar addresses.
Gabordi and other school administrators presented awards, and Board of Education Chairwoman Sharon Hightower and schools Superintendent Michael Graner helped present the diplomas.
The Senior Chorale, conducted by Bateman, sang the national anthem, while the Ledyard High School Band performed "Pomp and Circumstance" and the recessional at the close of the ceremony.
In addition to Bateman, Comstock, Farquhar, Nelson, Pillsbury and Schneider, students designated as Ledyard Scholars were Zachary Ash, Adelina Jakuba, Gregory Knight and Porter Reim.
Lindsey Dawn Kathryn Ackley, Darren Dean Alexander, Thomas Matthew Alonge, Zachary Stephen Ash, Jennine Michelle Ault, Clara Maria Ballerani, Shelby Leigh Barber, Callie Anne Bateman, Slade Daniel Baxley, Evan Bensko, Kayla Marie Bidstrup, Melissa Louise Bidstrup, Rachel Cathryn Bliven, Allyson Marie Bond, Katelyn Marie Bosse, Jillian Elizabeth Spear Brockway, Megan Elizabeth Brooks, Dominique Cierra Brown, Kaylyn Michele Bruciati, Elizabeth Ruth Burton, Dylan John Butten, Adam Francis Butters.
Also: Matthew Charles Campeta, Remington Joseph Cardosa, Kelcey Navajo Carter, Anthony S Castillo, Brian William Celotto, Andrew Alfred Charette, Xiao Ci Chen, Kyle Mitchell Clancy, Anson Bannell Clinton, Corey Michael Coates, Jerrica Anne Cole, Megan Stephanie Comstock, Katelyn Taylor Craig, Stephen Charles Curtin, James Paul Cusmano, Keri Lynn Daberkoe, Matthew Steven Daggett, Avery James Davis, Shelby Marie Davis, Tori Shea Davis, Michael Joon-Hwa DeLia, Kaitlyn Michelle DeVirgilio, Jennifer Marie Disco, Brett Robert Drake, Rachel Elizabeth Draper, Tyler Jordan Dunkle, Collin Michael Duval, Michael Robert Evans.
Also: Jenna Marie Farquhar, Victorious Anthony Felder, William Thomas Finney III, Chelsey Elizabeth Fuller, Steven Anthony Galloway, Ashley Marie Gardner, Danielle Erika Giggi, Victoria Rose Gordon, Jordan Trevon Grant, Natalie Lynn Gross, Jennifer Marie Guilbe, Zachary Taylor Hanna, Mariah Ashley Harper, Michelle Pochard Hart, Sarah Elizabeth Heikkinen, Harly Ann Hewlitt, Zachary Louis Higgins, Heather Marie Hildebrand, Shandra Nycole Francis Hill, Hunter Nicole Hornback, Justin Dietrich Humphries.
Also: Timothy Tyler Jackson, Adelina Nicole Jakuba, Alexander Gene Jamrog, Victoria Lou Jones, Olivia Takako Kane, Frank Ishod Kelly, Chrishell Lynn Kenyon, William B. Kersteter, Jr., Erica Michelle Kite, Andrew Michael Kline, Gregory Dean Knight, Sophie Rae Kotecki, Benjamin Seiwell Lahti, Robert William Lamb, Laura Nichole Lantelme, Caitlin Ann Larmann, Nicole Faith LaRose, Joshua Caldwell Lawrence, Andrew Michael Lee, Laura Cummings Levis, James Patrick Lockaby, Chloe Ann LoDuca, Sarah Elizabeth Long, Emily Katherine Loy, Morgan Garren Lynch, Sarah Ann Mackin, Ryan Scott Macklin, Marykate Malone, Alexander James Manwaring, Ashley Lauren Marquardt, Diana Virginia Mason, Conor Edward Massie, Ian Bruce Maxwell, Gabriel Enrique May, Brian Thomas McGarry, Hayden Michael McKelvey, Amber Renee McKennerney, Hannah Kathleen McNabney, Ava Joyce McPhail, Ravi Ratan Mishra, Bryanna Lynn Moreau, Ryan Vincent Morgan, Amber Elizabeth Morth, Michaela Elizabeth Munch.
Also: Bronwynne Cordelia Nagle, Brooke Amber Nelson, Kelly Cedar Nelson, Kelsey Christina Nixon, Sarah Elizabeth Nogacek, Nakai Clearwater Northup, Cassondra Eve Nowland, Robert Thomas Obey, Chad Arthur Ogborne, Amanda Ortiz, Christian Tyler Palacios, Ryan Joseph Parks, Justin Robert Patrick, Emily Ann Patterson, Caitlin Anne Pemberton, Raianna Maria Perez, Heather Mariann Perry, Bryauna Reyvin Phillips, Elliott Arthur Pillsbury, Hannah Catherine Posey, Alexander Poutchkov, Trevor Nelson Prescott, Clayton Keith Proctor, William Joseph Rabon, Julia Anne Rathbun, Porter Davidson Reim, Richard William Ritson, Nathan Royce Robinson, Tyler Michaael Rossi, Tianna Maria Roy, Terrance LaNell Roy Jr., Colleen Janis Rusk.
Also: Logan F. Samson, Ashleigh Morgan Scahill, Chelsea Louise Scanlan, Hayley Kroger Schneider, Natalie Elaine Schultz, Joseph Gregory Schwabenbauer, Jason Mariano Sebastian, Savannah Marie Simon, Sarah Elizabeth Sinnett, Sarah Elaine Skilbred, Akilia Latoya Smith, Dallas Alexander Smith, Forest James Smith, Kuntheara Christal Soeng, Michael Keane Spellman, Katherine Leanne Stapleton, Erin Renee Strickland, Kendall Jackson Swan, Margaritta Brett Swan, Jocelynn Lee Tamer, Ronald James Tardiff, Kylee Jane Taylor, Sara Nicole Taylor, Jennifer Alexandra Tello, Erin Nicole Thompson, Nicholas Gage Timmerman, Jean Pierre Raul Torres, Kyle Thomas Trinkley, Emilee Nicole Turner, Kaitlyn Marie Turner, Elisabeth Robin Tweedy, Christian Ulisses Ugarelli, Taylor Nicole Vetrano, Jordan Jaquan Walker, Destiny Rose Ward, Hannah Elise Warwick, Kale Berkeley Webler, Brandon Hugh Wenzel, Chantel Christine White, Cal James Williams, Kathryn Clare Wilson, Kyla Rose Wingrove-Haugland, Victoria Lynn Wolfe, Alex Scott Wood, Cody Lee Wooten, Zackary Zarn, Christopher Michael Zeppieri, Congrong Zheng, Jiaqi Zhou, Jessica J. Zimmer.