Stonington Class of 2016 'became better because we had each other'

Hannah Johnson poses a photo with a group of fellow members of the Stonington High School class of 2016 as they wait for commencement exercises Monday, June 13, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Hannah Johnson poses a photo with a group of fellow members of the Stonington High School class of 2016 as they wait for commencement exercises Monday, June 13, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Stonington — The class president of Stonington High School's Class of 2016 told fellow graduates, who gathered together on Monday evening in brown and white caps and gowns, that "we became better because we had each other."

Zack Ethan Tedeschi said the graduates have accomplished so much — but will not stop here.

"This is only the beginning, not the end," he said at the Stonington High School commencement. "A door is closing, and thousands are opening."

Friends and family members packed the bleachers at the Donald E. Palmer Field at Stonington High School on the breezy evening, as members of the Class of 2016 received their diplomas, reflected on the past four years and looked forward to their future.

In the commencement address, Officer Thomas Paige, youth officer for the Stonington Police Department, asked the graduates to stand together to show their appreciation for all those who helped them along the way, from staff and teachers to family members. 

Paige left the graduates with lessons on good decision-making, responsibility and perseverance.

He stressed the importance of understanding the consequences of decisions and learning from mistakes.

He told them that "success in life comes down to taking responsibility for your own actions."

Speaking about his own career path, Paige said that becoming a police officer was a career change for him. There were some obstacles along the way that delayed his goals, but he reached the position he wanted.

"My advice is: don't give up on something you want, if it doesn't come when you want it," he said. "Continue to reach and opportunities will come your way."

In the salutatory address, Haley Elise Duba said comparisons could be made among the characters in Winnie-the-Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood and members of the graduating class.

"Though we are all unique, it is the bonds between us that make us colorful as a class, that make us interesting, that make us into a story worth reading," she said. "As we look to the future, it is the story which we have told here that will guide us into the next chapters of our lives.

She said the class next year will represent 77 colleges and universities, 20 states, three countries, and four branches of the military.

During the ceremony, the graduates who will begin military service were recognized.

The ceremony also included a performance of "Home" by the Stonington High School Chamber Choir. Ruby Lee Robinson, a member of the class of 2016, read aloud a poem, titled "Metamorphosis."

Graduates wore blue ribbons in memory of Dorian Murray, an honorary graduate of the class.

Valedictorian Andrew Albert Frosti spoke about Miguel De Cervantes' "Don Quixote," and the enduring lesson of daring "to dream for a brighter future."

"The kind of enduring spirit it takes to believe in a better tomorrow, no matter what, is something that we are all born with, and it is something today I see in all my fellow graduates," he said. 

k.drelich@theday.com

Emily Gaccione turns and holds her diploma for her mother to see as the Stonington High School class of 2016 graduates in commencement exercises Monday, June 13, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Emily Gaccione turns and holds her diploma for her mother to see as the Stonington High School class of 2016 graduates in commencement exercises Monday, June 13, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Kailey Jones, back, braids fellow graduate Marissa Caraballo's hair as the  Stonington High School class of 2016 prepares for commencement exercises Monday, June 13, 2016. Caraballo says Jones does her hair for every big event in their lives. Caraballo sang the school's alma mater 'Far Above Atlantic Waters' to conclude the ceremonies. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Kailey Jones, back, braids fellow graduate Marissa Caraballo's hair as the Stonington High School class of 2016 prepares for commencement exercises Monday, June 13, 2016. Caraballo says Jones does her hair for every big event in their lives. Caraballo sang the school's alma mater "Far Above Atlantic Waters" to conclude the ceremonies. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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