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Montville - Thirty-one years after his own graduation from Montville High School, retired Army Col. Kevin Brown, who was elected chairman of the Mohegan Tribe last fall, told Class of 2014 graduates at his alma mater that being scared is OK, and what really counts is finding the courage to continue.
Brown was the keynote speaker at Montville High School's 50th commencement, held on the athletic field Tuesday evening under sunny skies.
A 1983 graduate, Brown related how he led a battalion of soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division into the heart of the Sunni Triangle along the Euphrates River in 120-degree heat exactly eight years ago to the day. Their mission was to aid three soldiers from the 101st Airborne who had been captured by the enemy and were being held in hostile territory.
The young soldiers who followed Brown, "many of them the same age at the time as some of you sitting here now," he said, "well, let's just say they weren't worrying about how hot their black commencement gowns were on a Tuesday night comfortably seated in the safety of their hometown."
Brown's point - that when the job market seems impossible to penetrate, or college physics is incredibly tough, or the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship isn't working out - you don't have to "suck it up," but you do have to have the courage to know you're going to get through it and that there are others who care about you.
'Courage to face your fears'
"You have to have the courage to face your fears," said Brown, "and face the very real possibility of failure at some point in your life, knowing you will get back up."
Principal Jeffrey Theodoss encouraged the graduates to hug their parents and thank them for all they've done for them. And he advised that the graduates develop a passion for whatever they do, develop a work ethic and knowledge in their area of interest, and respect all people and demonstrate class in doing so.
Joan Miller, the valedictorian, and Lacia Japp, salutatorian, also addressed their classmates.
But the overflow crowd spilling out of the bleacher seats was most excited as members of the Class of 2014 were presented their diplomas. There were shout-outs and whistling and applause, and the graduating class, seated with their backs to relatives and friends, displayed all sorts of glitter, color and personal messages on the tops of their mortarboards.
As each name was called and a graduate walked forward, another section erupted. And, when the students moved their black and orange tassels from the right to the left side at the end of the ceremony, there was thunderous applause and then a flash of color in the air as graduates heaved their caps skyward.
The Montville High School Class of 2014 was history.
The Montville High School Class of 2014 is:
Donzel Darius Aimetti, Rachael Ann Allen, Keyon Drew Amado, Brittany Bernice Anderson, Nicole Marie Anderson, Devin Jesus Andrews, Briana Nicole Angell, Brandon Henry Apicelli, Franco Renato Baquerizo, Mariah Rose Bellantonio, Carlie Anne Bemis, Gregory Thomas Benjamin, Anthony Joseph Bernardo, Mercedes Star Birkbeck, Patrick Michael Bogan, Emma Victoria Bollinger, Joseph Richard Brachas, Danielle Marie Briggs, Rachael Megan Brovero, Cassidy Lee Bundy, Xujia Cao, Claudia Jeanette Caron, Jacob Robert Caskey, Lucas Avery Chapman, Moranda Ivory Chapman, Dominique Josephine Charlemagne, Charlie Chen, Michael Chen, Sonia Marie Childress, Ariana Alexia Cloutier, Tatiana Maranda Cloutier, Scott James Cogswell, Chynna Imani Lenora Collier, Allison Taylor Contillo, Jeffrey Thomas Cregeur, Austin Tyler Dart, Riddhi Bhasker Dave, Dazhen, Christeen Ervelle DelaCruz DelaPena, Chanel Rose Demers, Gabriel Michael Diaz, Matthew Gilman Dohna, Mitchel Anthony Dole, Lobsang Dolma, Tsering Dolma, Rachel Marie Donnini, Kelsey Irene Elizabeth Drager.
Matthew Ryan Durrua, Megan Elizabeth Farr, Margie Elizabeth Faustino, William Frederick Fish IV, Kevin Robert Fitzgerald, Marisa Kate Florio, Vincenzo Wayne Florio, Brieanna Marie Fuentes, Zachary Ryan Garey, Brett Andrew Glynn, Kyle Robert Gosselin, Emily Kate Greene, Laura Erin Hafner, Kyle James Hagley, Catherine Anne Hahn, Seth Vincent Hallbauer, Joshua Taylor Hammel, Nicholas John Haralambidis, Augustus Eli Hart, Casey Marie Henk, Kimberly Ann Henk, Mackadie Henderson Heon, James Bond Hilbie, Jamie Lynne Hill, Michael Wallace Holloway, Heather Renee Huston, Dennis Michael Hyek, Jr., Gabrielle Elena Iaconiello, Emily Towers Irwin, Sidney Jerale Jackson, Lacia Ann Japp, Stephanie Pauline Jaskiewicz, Dillon Patrick Johnson, Nicholas Ireland Keeney, Joselyn Marie Kelley, Brett Alexander Kelly, Peter James Keramidas, Jr., Stanley Edward Kesilewski, III, Jampa Khando, Kelley Faith Kloner, Allison Taylor Kronk, Brad Alan Lawrenclle, Rabakah Lynne Leighton, Kristen Marie Lemieux, Xavier Raine LePage, Chase Mason David Lewis.
Zhuoru Li, Charity Rebekah Liebig, YuanYuan Lin, Daniel Ryan Linkinhoker, Justin Cyril Longton, Michael Glenn Lord, Seana Michele Lynch, Chelsey Nicole Mackler, William Knute Malinowsky, Dylan Jacob Manville, Caitlin Elanor Marsh, Alyssa Renee Mattison, Catherine Charlotte Matzul, Dennis Austin May, Abigail Grace McAdams, Joshua Stephen McAlpine, Taylor Mackenzie McDonald, Alexandra Lee McDonough, Marc Robert McGrath, Jr., Isaiah Ryder McKittrick, Martha Ahdy Mena, Joan Alison Miller, Anna Sofie Boren Moller, Jennamarie Elizabeth Moody, Chad Raymond Mooney, Brandon Ryan Moreno, Katherine Victoria Namin, Faith N. Nelson, Courtney Jean Nixon, Briana Nicole Orr, Christopher James Page, Moesha Pamphile, Rohan Rajesh Parekh, Joshua John Paterno, Taylor Marie Penman, Caitlin Joan Doherty Perkins, Tylor John Pflugbeil, Thomas Eugene Podeszwa, Brent Raymond Politowicz, Tyler Shane Pool, Mikayla Rose Poulin, Ryan Alan Quidgeon, Joseph Zachary Quinn, Courtney Leigh Rail, Alexandra Lily Richard.
Stephen James Rogers, Adrianna Corina Rolon, Brittany Marie Ruley, Alexis Lee Satiro, Kenzie Taegen Savage, Jacob Craig Schmalz, Neil Joseph Schneeberg, Paige Michele Skinner, Jonathan Alan Smedberg, Natalie Letizia Smith, Timothy Sven Spakowski, Jr., Bennett Sterling Stackpole, Kyle Paul Stepanian, Nicholas David Stray, Nicholas Foster Strecker, Kailee Ann Tanner, Mallory Christine Tassone, Jessica Allison Taylor, William Wolfe Thompson, Ryan Jeremy Torres, Melissa Deanna Truex, Jeffrey Truongcao, Jessica Elizabeth Turley, Ane Ueland, Brenden John Valliere, Matthew Vela, Dejah Marie Walrond, Heather Anne Walther, Hannah Lamar Watford, Michael James Watterson, Anthony Richard Wilkens, Terrell Witherspoon, Emily Christine Woods, Rena Wu, Ariana Sophia Wujtewicz, Nathan Alexander Zawacki, Savannah Yi Ting Zheng, Marissa Ruth Zimmerman, Rachel McCarthy Zuppe.
Palmer Academy graduates are:
Anthony Bernardo, Austin Dart, Kelsey Drager, Margie Faustino, Faith Nelson, Courtney Nixon, Kyle Stepanian, Ryan Torres.