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Norwich Technical School grads hungry for success

Norwich — The 152 members of the Class of 2017 walked out of Norwich Technical High School on Friday night with diplomas, plans for the future and, possibly, cravings for breakfast food.

Class salutatorian Joshua Stanavage, who is headed to the University of Connecticut in the fall on a Presidential Scholarship, quoted the character Leslie Knope from the television series "Parks and Recreation," eliciting laughter from his classmates and their family and friends, who filled the gymnasium and overflow seats in the auditorium.

"'We need to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn't matter, but work is third," he said, citing the season (3) and episode (13) in which Knope uttered those words of wisdom.

Stanavage's parting words to his classmates also alluded to their appetites. 

"If you ever feel sad about this closing chapter, please remember there is no sadness that can't be cured by breakfast food," he said.

Valedictorian Casey Gervais, who is headed to Johnson and Wales University to study culinary arts and food service management, said Norwich Tech is the reason "many of us are going to lead brilliant and happy lives." She said employers look for experience and employability, and the technical schools have the upper hand, having completed vocational training along with their academic studies.

"Be bold. Be daring, and face the world head on," she said. "You're ready. Class of 2017, show the world what you can do."

Some graduates are starting jobs immediately, while others are headed to college or into military service.

Abbey Pater of Griswold, who completed the culinary program, started working at the Lake of Isles Golf Course two months ago and said she loves it.

"Everything I've learned here I can use in the real world," she said.

Jacob Huff of Waterford, who studied automotive technology, will be studying mechanical engineering at Lawrence Technical University in Michigan. Eventually, he wants to get a master's degree and work for Ford Motors as an engineer. Attending Norwich Tech was the best decision he ever made, Huff said.

"It really directed me into what I want to do in the future," he said.

Some students will veer away from the shop work they completed. Caitlynn Wiese of Voluntown, who was in the carpentry program, said she is going to the State of Connecticut Police Academy to become a state trooper.

"It was really fun," she said of high school. "I learned a lot of responsibility."

Manouchka Duperval of New London, who was in the marketing, management and entrepreneurship program, said she is going to study criminal justice at Johnson and Wales.

"I always wanted to be a probation officer working with youth, to be someone they can trust," she said.

Hannah McFee of Montville also studied carpentry. She is going to the University of Hartford on a pre-medical scholarship, she said, having been inspired by a lot of the doctors she met when she had some medical issues.

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