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Norwich — The graduates of the Norwich Technical High School said they were excited to receive their diplomas Thursday but nervous for the future that lies ahead.
Many said they will miss their friends and the familiar school environment, which they are leaving behind to work in the trades they studied, go on to college or serve in the military.
“I’m excited to fly away from the nest,” said Kara Dewaine, 17, of Lebanon, who is going to Eastern Connecticut State University. “But I’m nervous about the whole growing up thing. It seems like just yesterday we were freshman. This came so fast.”
“It’s emotional because honestly, I didn’t think this day would come,” said Troyal Rouse, 20, of Griswold, who plans to work as a carpenter. “It hit me as I was driving here — Oh my God, I’m graduating today.”
In the school gym, filled with cheering relatives and friends, 153 students who specialized in disciplines such as carpentry, culinary arts, electrical and plumbing received their high school diplomas during the school’s 70th commencement exercises.
Principal Nikitoula Menounos told the Class of 2013 to “work hard, follow your dreams, do the very best you can and be true to yourself.” Charles A. Jaskiewicz III, a member of the State Board of Education, told them they are “the next generation of everyday heroes.”
The class is the first to spend all four years at the high school’s site on Mahan Drive. Norwich Tech moved from the New London Turnpike location when Three Rivers Community College consolidated its two campuses.
“We have shared four years together filled with great memories. Some of us are ready to leave, while others wish that they could stay,” said the salutatorian, Gabrielle Tudisca, 17, of Bozrah. “But tonight we all share in one last high school memory — graduating together.”
Justin Viens, the valedictorian, shared a quote by Phillip Adams, an Australian writer, that he said has helped guide him: “Unless you’re willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go, success won’t happen.”
At the end of the ceremony, caps flew in the air after Menounos announced, “Class of 2013, you are dismissed.”
Outside the school, students took pictures with their friends and family and celebrated. Kianna Relliford, 18, of Norwich, said she was nervous about leaving Norwich Tech because it meant she would soon start basic training for the Army.
“It will be a new adventure,” she said. “I’m going to experience everything that’s out there. For now, I’m just happy I made it this far. I got to graduate today, with all my friends.”
Jeffrey Accede, Ryan Adcock, Angelica Aguilar, Sean St. Amour, Gregory Ayers, Nicholas Backus, Bryan Balczun, Amanda Beauchemin, Jesse Beck, Justin Becker, Ingrid Bender, Kayla Benjamin, Curtis Bennett, Deanna Bennett, Rachelle Blackburn, Samuel Blanchette, Megan Boast, Bailey Bouchard, Stacey Bowen, Ronny Bradlaw, Richard Bunch, Brandon Burgess, Joshua Burke, Shayde Caldarone-Howlett, John Carney, Natassia Carter, Brendon Cartier, Jacob Coffey, Travis Cohen-Rappold, Tyler Cote, Brandon Croff, Dylan Currier, Thomas Daigle, Michael Dander, Chad Daniels, Anderson Delgado, Jessica Deschamps, Morgan Deschamps, Kara Dewaine, Parnelis Diaz, Justin Donn, Nicholas Duval, Sierra Ecklid, Jakub Eiden, Benjamin Eifler, Victoria Elwell, Mikala Frank.
Also: James Frew, Eric Frye, Analicia Garcia, Adrian Genovesio, Logan Giangrasso, Aaliyah Gonzalez, Earnest Greenwood, Jeffrey Handy, Sean Hauta, Michael Helie, Dustin Henderson, Angelica Hernandez, Korbin Hightower, Danielle Hoard, Jarrad Horsley, Tyra Houtman-Wolchesky, Gabriella Howlett, Alexander Hughes, Dale Huntley, Henry Irons, Adam Izbicki, Thomas Jankowski, Tucker Johns, James Jones, Kala Kay, Brandon Kenyon-Aguimatang, Derek Klein, Alexis Knight, Andrew Kurasz, Matthew Ladd, Ryan Ladd, Jared Lester, Jose Lizardi, Krysta Loftus, Brenda Maerkle, Matthew Manavas, Cami Marion, Jordan McAlister, Angelica Miller, Jordan Miller, Kyle Mohney.
Also: Luis Morales, Kayla Moran, Tyler Mosier, Thomas Mowan, Amanda Newlan, Sean Nixon, John Norris, Thomas Nye, Christopher Palmer, Kwandell Patterson, Alyssa Patton, Daniel Paul, Dezerea Pepin, Kayla Perry, Paityn Pike Derochick, Kayla Pires-Daniels, Christopher Plympton, Kristy Quealy, Justin Reilly, Kianna Relliford, EJ Remondi, Joshua Reynolds, George Riley, Jared Riley, Mitchell Ritchie, Jacob Rosario, Troyal Rouse, Daniel Ryan, Sydney Schukei, Nicholas Sforza, Jensen Shaw, Alysha Smith, Mathew Smith, William Soderberg, Talia Ann Sonner, James Soucier, Aaron Spencer, Bailey Spellman, Sierra Steeves, Cody Stephanski, Heather Strong, Alexandra Suddy, Damien Sullivan, Joshua Tanner, Geraldine Taranto, Matthew Tatro, Tiffany Taylor, Carlos Torres, Jeremy Torres-Jimenez, Robert Torrey, Chelsea Trudeau, Gabrielle Tudisca, Nicholas Utz, Joshua Valcin, Antonio Valentin, Joseph Veilleux, Jose Victoria, Justin Viens, Samuel Wade, Frederick Wardwell, Desiree Watson, Nathaniel Whipple, Juan Wilbur, Ashley Ziroli.