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Waterford — During Waterford High School's 54th commencement ceremony, valedictorian Gabriel Morosky said real life was just beginning.
"Graduating took a lot of effort, but high school isn't real life, and it's crucially important to recognize that," he said. "What we learned in math for example, are just the fundamental pieces of discipline. What we learned in history is just an overview. We've spent little time as critical-thinking adults."
This year's graduating class members will scatter across the country as they move into the next phase of their lives, the superintendent of schools said, addressing a sea of graduates clad in Lancer blue caps and gowns.
"This is the time where you get to recreate yourselves and get a fresh start. How many times can you say that in life?" Superintendent Jerome Belair said. "Diplomas are your ticket to the world."
This year's seniors also have a distinction that they can call their own: They are the last senior class to leave the old Waterford High School and the first senior class to graduate from the new Waterford High School.
First Selectman Daniel Steward, a 1968 graduate of Waterford High, told the graduates that they are the success the town has hoped for.
He challenged them to continue to embrace the advances technology has made in the 21st century but to also look forward to what's to come.
Principal Donald Macrino, who will retire this month after 17 years, said that throughout the construction process, the class retained its sense of humor, rolled with the punches and did not complain. Construction of the high school started in 2010, and staff moved in while students were on April vacation. The town has since begun demolition of a portion of the former high school.
As a pile of rubble lay behind the graduates, Macrino said there was a "tinge of sadness."
"As we look beyond that pile, there's pride and there's promise. ... You have crossed the finish line victorious and have arrived at yet another starting line," he said. "Rest for a moment and gather all your strength for the next run. Give it all you have."
Anthony J Aguiar, Matthew James Alfultis, Danielle Elizabeth Andrelli, John Angelis, Michael Christopher Antonino, Maura Catherine Arnold, Nathaniel Charles Ashbey, James David Auclair, Tiffany Marie Avallone, Anabel Maria Averso, Nathan Bagwell, Cheryl Lynn Balbat, Justin M. Barczak, William Othello Bartelli, IV, Nnamdi Noah Oba Battles, Brooke Ashley Battista, Nnamdi Noah Oba Battles, Sarah Rose Baxter, Taylor Grace Bernardo, Alyssa M. Bevilacqua, Samantha Marie Biltcliffe, Joshua Fraser Blagden, Anthony Raul Bonilla, Christian Bonilla, Courtney Ellen Borysewicz, Ryan Logan Brasel, Ryan Brouwer, Christine May Bueno, Tommy Bueno, Tyler Richard Burdick, Mitchell Burgess, Timothy J. Calabrese, Heaven Lee Caristo-Mobley, Joseph M. Castelpoggi, Patrick Howell Caulkins, Cayla Michelle Cecchini, Gabrielle Nicole Clark, Jaime Christine Cleary, Austin Jon Collier, Mary Alexandria Connor, Rachel Marie Crawford, Michael Joseph Crowley, Jaime Dahl, John Thomas Danskin, Tyler Matthew Davis, Elliot Jacob Diana, Kaitlyn Anthea Donovan, Leah Danielle Doroski, Aeriana C. Dunston, Daniel Steven Durk, Shelby Allyssa Emanuel, Alfonso Enderle, April Symone English, Ryan Erricson, Nataly Aleksandra Estrin, Samira Fahey, Jillian Joane Fal, Zachary Taylor Fardon, Chelsea Leah Feliciano, Jamison Monte Fielder, Edwin Marcos Flores, Emmeline Mae Franklin, Andrew Frascarelli, Benjamin Frascarelli, Na Gao, William Mark Getchell, Matthew Robert Getty, Corey James Gladue, Tyler Andrew Goddu, Karina A. Gould, Jeffrey Allen Gran, Rebecca Gregoire, James P. Guarino, Wyatt C. Guthrie, Katelyn Haff, Jawal Ann Hage, Susan Marie Hage, Jordan Ryan Hamler, Emily Ann Hansen, Karalyn May Harlow, Jonas Lopaka Heaukulani, Nicholas R. Hedden, Jake Bernard Henri, Andrea Patricia Henry, Andrew Hong, Shelby Joy Huntington, Taylor Ivory, Ray O. Jackson, William Jerome Jackson-Corbitt, Jacob Charles Job, Daniel Johnson, Jaime Aleah Johnson, Kelsey Johnson, Chad Bradly Johnston, Christopher Jamal Jones, Jordan David Jones, Reginald Jones, III, Mason Thomas Kane, Tommy L. Keech, Joshua Steele Kelly, Deeba Khatri, Ryan Nelson Kohl, Mary Teresa Koller, Amanda Katherine Kumpitsch, Maria Kurisoo, Marisa Paola Labrecque, Danielle N. Lankerd, Emily Gayle Lanzarotto, Jamie LaVigne, Alexandra Diane Lawrence, Holly Haywood Leal, Madeline Conners LeBeau, Brandon Anthony Lee, Patrick Lee, Nikolai Josef Lehet, Lilly Vera Lenes, Jessica Yuexi Li, Matthew Liebenthal, Anthony R. Long, Weston Chandler Long, Sophia Gilman Mallari, Sara-Caitrin Mandelburg, Joshua Frederick Marcks, James Maryeski, Ellis M. Massiah, Kelsey Marie Matthews, Austin Thomas McAvoy, Megan Catherine McBryde, Ryan Luke McCarthy, Nicole Katherine McComic, Alison McDermott, Anthony McLaughlin-Lawrence, Adrian Melendez-Cooper, Gina Nicole Mello, Jordine Aniese Mendez, Taylor Marie Miller, Austin Charles Miner, Crystal Nicole Mitchell, Jennifer M. Mlyniec, Shawn Patrick Monahan, Gabriel Morosky, Randy Dean Muenzner, Jr., , Sarah Elizabeth Murphy, Tucker J. Murphy, Andrew T. Nassetta, Nathan Richard Nebelski, Kimberly Ann Neto, Ronald James Newberry, Ryan Alexander Newberry, Lily Kay O'Hara, Megan Mary O'Malley, Ivy Elizabeth O'Neill, Daniel C Ortiz, Chrysanthy Ellen Panagos, James J. Pandolfe, III, Amelia Jordan Paul, Andrew John Pedro, III, Rafael Perez, SriLekha N. Perumalla, Madalyn Lee Peterson, Tyler P. Petrini, Nicholas James Petrizzi, Angela Pezzello, Joseph L. Pezzolesi, Jr., Brett MacKay Pias, Benjamin R. Piascik, Rodney Allen Pinkham, III, Deion Anthony Pittman, Catlin Theresa Purcell, Marissa Elizabeth Purcell, Christopher Purdy, Kayla Capri Richardson, Talia N. Rickerson, Tyler C. Riemann, Joseph Roessler, Philip Alexander Rood, Melina Angel Rosa, Ashley Roselund, Nealan DeForest Rouisse, Rebekah Kaye Rouisse, Alicia Michelle Ruehle, George McHugh Ryan, Sean P. Ryan, Dana Savoy, Hannah Rose Scahill, Jacob Ethan Scott, Adam Michael Shaw, Lauren Catherine Shaw, Adam J. Shepherd, Ryan Silveira, Eli Joshua Simonson, Leah Geri Simonson, Emily Skinner, Allison Kate Smith, Gabrielle Smith, Justene Marie Smith, Brian Sosin, Michael Spanos, Megan Spellman, Jonah Staller, Michael Stankov, Brittnie Veronica Stoy, Emily Lauren Stuchell, Ian Michael Stygar, Nora Kathleen Sullivan, Cody Jude Susi, Karli Swanson, Desiree Taveras, Calvin Taylor Thibeau, Craig Norman Thibeau, Jr., Casia Diane Tomlinson, Christopher W. Tryon, Chase Tucker, Matthew Tulba, Matthew Francis Tytla, Samuel Page Urban, Christopher James Venditti, Alexa Marie Vocalina, Russell L. Wade, Jr., Blake Wadsworth, Martina Evelyn Warner, Nathan Reed Waters, Jordan X. Waterworth, Julie Daren Weiss, Baird L. Welch-Collins, Matthew Victor White, Samuel Louis Wilensky, Brittney Joyce Wilkinson, Kyle James Willoughby, David George Willox, Jr., Peter Mieczyslaw Wojtowicz, Richard Lee Zaharek, III, David D. Zaldivar, Julia Zawacki, Sandy Zhang, Bowei Zhao.