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Stonington — Installation of a new artificial turf football field at their school meant Stonington High School seniors could not hold their graduation ceremony at the traditional venue Wednesday.
Plan B, though, worked out pretty well.
With spectacular weather and an even more spectacular setting overlooking the Thames River, the 190 seniors received their diplomas during a ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's Cadet Memorial Field.
This year's commencement speaker was former high school guidance director Allison Van Etten, who is now the school district's director of special services. She talked about the many dreams the graduates have.
"The dreams that seemed so grandiose in the past are now within your reach," she said, adding they will need to work hard and persevere to reach them.
Van Etten, a 1990 Stonington High graduate, advised the graduates to surround themselves with those who have similar dreams and people who will support them.
"Finally, be prepared for some disappointment. No one ever said dreams come true easily," she said, adding, "there is no better time than now to reach out and grab your dream."
She left them with several lines from Aerosmith: "Dream on. Dream on. Dream on. Dream until your dreams come true."
Class President Joni Moody thanked classmates, parents and teachers "who made it their responsibility to help us become successful. What they taught us helped our hearts and minds to grow."
She called graduation "a fresh start" and "terrifying" but said they are "ready to embrace the challenge of the unknown."
Listing their many interests and activities, salutatorian Lindsay Gimple reminded her classmates: "We have not been stagnant up until now. You sit among a class of doers."
Valedictorian Audrey Jones likened the memories of high school to the fireflies she used to catch and release when she was younger. She urged them to do the same with their memories of high school and live in the moment.
"You won't forget them. Now is the time to let them breathe," she said.
Travis Dylan Adams, Tyler Joseph Adams, Jeremy Genido Anunciado, Emily Ann Apatow, Kimberly Elizabeth Armstrong, Cody Ryan Arsenault, Jordan Leong Auber, Nicholas Joseph Balestracci, Jeff Keith Ball, Brittney Ashley Banker, Nicole Meghan Banker, Reanna Jean Banker, Clare Elizabeth Bornstein, Ryan Joseph Boucher, Christopher Robert Bovino, Vanessa Lynn Brainard, Monica Jean Brooks, Kenneth Alfred Brown, Rachael Lee Brundza, Annika Wheeler Burgess, Jessica Louise Butler, Emily Jane Buxton, Falecia Marie Cabral, Emily Ann Calobrisi, Cory Timothy Candelet, Ian Michael Capozzoli, Katherine Margaret Chambers.
Also: Christopher Michael Chapman, Helen Chen, Christopher Edward Chevalier, Andrea Lynay Chiaradio, Justin Tyler Claspell, Kenneth Cameron Clift, Patrick Ryan Coan, Melanie Adele Coffey, Tessa Joe Colby, Christina Gail Connor, Mackensie duPont Crowley, Ryan Michael Crowley, Alexandra Nicole Curioso, Adam Dawson Darst, Matthew Donald DeCarlo, Jonathan Andrew Denson, Maya Rose DePasquale, Douglas Alec Domnarski, Sarah Alexa Downie, Amy Dorothy Dugger, Samantha Claire Duignan, Courtney Elyssabeth Shea Dumais, Lauren Elizabeth Eisenbeis, Colton Ryan Faria, Kayla Ann Farrell, Mariah Lee Farrell, Eric Daniel Fast, Cullen Storm Faulise.
Also: Timothy Russell Ferraro, Daniel Nathan Fields, Seth Daniel Fiola, Gustavo Rodolfo Flores, Ashley Caitlin Foley, Brian Patrick Frosti, Brenden Patrick Gayowski, Lindsay Michelle Gimple, Zachary James Goldberg, Sarah Hobaica Gosselin, Alicia Marie Grace, Jacob C. Grantham, Jared Reid Avery Gray IV, Keegan Cochrane Gray, Ian Stone Grosso, Destiny Jessica Hartmann, Katharine Grace Headley, Brittany Nicole Henry, Nicholas Ikerd Herrman, Robert Logan Hertlein, Lucas William Hespeler, Jesse Michael Hickey, Eric Bailey Holmgren, Edward Gibson Hynes IV, Jordyn Elizabeth Irons, Danielle Krystina Jacobs, Steven Anthony Johnson Jr., Audrey Marie Jones, Forrest Christina Joss, Jarl Gustaf Birger Jungnelius, Mollie Tod Kam, Tyler Michael Keehner, Maxwell Jackson Kelley.
Also: Mitchell Allen Kezer, John Thomas Klewin, Christine Lorraine Knowles, Sophie Frances Kornacki, Collin Christopher Larkin, Jennifer Amaral Leandro, Paulo Simao Leandro, Robert Anthony Lecce III, Jessica Lee, Shawn Thomas Lenihan, Jessica Ashley Lloyd, Russell Adam Lussier, Cameron Alexander Lyon, Jessica Lynn Maderia, Tristan John Maiorano, Daniel Eric Mansfield, Andrew Martin, Ryan Vincent Martin, Jonathan Paul Mathews, Teegan T. Mathewson, Joshua Thomas Maurice, Megan Kristina McNeil, Jouval Maceno Mejias, Zoë Marie Mercurio, Hunter Michael Minicucci, Nicole Elizabeth Mitchell, Joni Marie Moody, Sophie Melissa Moore, Claudia Lucia Morera, Evelyn Glynn Morgera, Kaitlyn Mikaela Morin.
Also: Allison Erin Murphy, Nicole Marie Murphy, Jay Matthew Nieuwenhuis, Alexander D. Nolan, Mackenzie Rae O'Neill, Amelia Ashfield Palmer, Jaclyn Jean Paride, Douglass Harlan Payne III, Edward Robert Peglow, Antonio Coleman Pereira, Kiera Megan Petersen, Mary Elizabeth Pettini, Harley Boyd Pyles, Jacob Perry Radack, Andrew Mark Rathbun, Theresa Marie Reynolds, Daniel S. Riordan, Mario V. Ritacco, Hannah Elissa Robinson, Liza Beth Robinson, Miranda Paige Rodi, Amanda Chulaluk Roy, Renee Marian Sajedian, Foster V. Sandlin, Joseph Michael Sanford, Andrea Lin Sanquedolce, Cody Christopher Santos, Courtney Jean Scherer, Lucy Lorraine Schlink, Connor Michael Schrempf, Duane Nicholas Shea, Sarah Marie Shea, Nicholas William Silvia, John Brian Skogerboe, Chloe Jane Slater, James William Smith, Christopher James Snyder, Nathan Augustine Sollenberger, Jessica Lynn Spear, Nicholas Ian St. Amour, Asa Arthur Stafford.
Also: Clifford Charles Stamm, Stephanie Lynn Stearns, Zane Riley Steele, Samuel Thomas Stiger, Nicolás Strafach, Madison Ellen Sutton, Marc Raymond Tattersall, Matthew Scott Tetreault, Haley Thompson, Andrea Jean Tirrell, Michael Brennan Toole, Kenneth Allan Tracey III, Adam Jonathan Tran, Victoria Karmin Tsang, Evan Michael Vandal, Jake M. Vine, Joseph Mac Walsh, Jonah Elliot Warrell, Mary Nabila Wassef, Jason Melvin Lovell Whitford, Kristina Tisbury Whittington, Aaron Taylor Williams, Nathan John Williams Jr., John Quincy Williamson, Ezekiel Zephaniah Wilson Harris, Kyle Thomas Woodworth, Elena Grace Wostrel, Zachary Christian Woviotis, Jia Wei Wu, Rebecca Nicole Wuenscher.