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Old Lyme — As Lyme-Old Lyme High School graduates in blue and white caps and gowns listened Friday, speaker Michelle Gao encouraged them to "remember to leave no doors unopened."
Gao advised her fellow graduates to reflect on their high school journey and open the next door in front of them.
"Smile forward," she said, "and step through that threshold."
Principal James Wygonik advised the Class of 2013 that taking meaningful risks, though sometimes frightening, would exhilarate and fulfill them.
"You have one life," he said. "Be sure to live it."
History teacher Aron D'Aquila told class members to trust themselves. He reflected on how he gave up plans to be an engineer in college to pursue his passion for history. He left the graduates with these words: "Be true to yourself and trust."
With their high school behind them, the graduates enthusiastically walked onto the stage one by one amid cheers and applause and shook hands with Board of Education Chairman James Witkins and Superintendent Ian Neviaser before receiving their diplomas.
The graduates speaking Friday further reflected on how their educational experience helped develop them into the people they are today.
Salutatorian Maria Awwa said the school's transformation during its renovation mirrored their own development into unique individuals.
"Now, as this school stands here before us ready to bring on the new wave of students, we stand here, ready to bring on our own future," she said.
Class President Nora Syed said the class has overcome adversity and moved from their uncomfortable middle school years to become confident high school seniors.
"Though our paths diverge after tonight, we will always remember our place in this community and the impact it has had on us as a result of the support from family, friends and staff," she said.
Valedictorian Jennifer Kowalski said the graduating class was so fortunate to have their families, teachers and each other, and definitely would shatter the myth of the unlucky number 13.
"We are lucky to have friends that are always there for us," she said.
Erik Knut Abrahamsson, Gunnar Stephan Abrahamsson,Vincent Robert Angeli, Maria Awwa, Sebastian Blaize Bakoledis, Jackson Church Bennett, Blaise Nash Berglund, Jeffrey David Berry, Nicholas Elliott Berry, Lilly Marie Birk, Olivia Susan Borsari, Gabrielle Faith Borzillo, Alexandra Marie Bowker, Alex Richardson Brault, Michael Allen Bray, Paul Edwin Burdick, Amanda Rose Burke, Dylan Joseph Burton, Devin James Byrne, Nathan Todd Carabello, Kayla Marie Carberry, Erik Leighton Carlson, Micaela Elizabeth Caulkins, Patricia Louise Celone, Madalyn Adelle Cika, Lauren Carol-Helen Colburn, Samantha Lorraine Constantinou, James Bennett Cromarty, Jabez Alan Crook, Sean Xavier Crowley, Nathan Daniel Crysler, Georgia Morrell Cummins, Daena D'Mello, Chris Anthony Espinal, Keegan Rain Fecher, Agatha Ruth Forstein, Tyler Miguel Franco, Matthew James Fuller, Andrew Michael Ganey, Michelle Gao, Gregory John Garrison, Richard Arthur Gaudet, Anthony Ramiro Goncalves, Slater Broderick Gregory, Frederick John Harrison, Lily Claire Hartmann, Matthew Joseph Harty, Hunter Graham Holmes, Audra Jayne Inglis, Trevor Talbot Kegley, Najee Nicole Keller, Steven Wayne Klimaszewski, Lindsey Brooke Knepshield, Jennifer Kay Kowalski, Molly Kristen Labriola, Veronica Oddny Lee, George Harold Logan, Cara Lord Lucey, Agatha Luma Magalhaes, Georgia Elizabeth Male, Tanya Malih Malik, Carly Janette Mangs, Michael Austin Mann, Kathryn Rachel Mastrianna, Allyson June McCarthy, Robert William McDonald, Isabelle Erin McKeon, Lucky Hana McLaren, Mercedes Marie Mercado, Anne Elizabeth Meyer, Victoria Jane Montanaro, Dylan Joseph Morrissey, Elliott Patrick Mueller, Erik Gunnar Nicholson, Meghan Ellen Nosal, Aidan Brooks O'Donnell, Paige Elizabeth Palenski, Kelly Biren Patel, Shawn Patrick Pelissier, Andrew Masayoshi Pitman, Rory Elizabeth Plyler, Robert Edward Poirier, Katherine Mary Quinn, Travis George Russell, Taylor McCall Saunders, Lindsey Beverly Scott, Crow Jared Sheehan, Arielle Rose Sherman-Golembeski, Timothy James Shoemaker, Audrey Elizabeth Spina, Samuel Thomas Stadnick, David Benjamin Sturgell, Samuel Brooks Sweitzer, Nora Binti Syed, Sarah Allyn Talcott, Xinyue Cynthia Tan, Taylor Marie Teixeira, Arin Jean Thomas, Alexis Rayanne Thornton, Brooke Andrea Tinnerello, Caroline Kay Tompkins, Rebecca Grace Tompkins, Andrew Robert Tyrol, Amber Gabriella Vernacatola, Brenna Rose Visgilio, Spencer Thomas Ward, Caleb Isaac Weissinger, Lucille Iva Welles, Morgan Ward White, Samuel James Wilkie, Alexis Marie Wright.