Fitch graduates told to remember: 'Once a Falcon, always a Falcon'

Groton — The Fitch High School Class of 2019 includes one All-New England, one Academic All-American and 13 All-State athletes. The robotics team placed No. 1 in New England and has been invited to compete in Indianapolis this summer.

There are three all-region musicians, and the marching band — which performed in London this past January — won the New England championship all four years.

In keeping with an annual tradition, Principal Joseph Arcarese rattled off these accomplishments at the commencement ceremony, the school’s 89th, on Friday evening.

The graduating Falcons formed a sea of red on Dorr Field, under an evening sky that turned sunny after a day of rain.

Arcarese encouraged students not to get discouraged from their mistakes or blame others but to grow from them, and noted that mistakes can sometimes put you on the path on which you belong.

The principal pointed to a personal story: He was terminated from his banking job after approving a loan for someone who did not meet the bank’s guidelines, but that led him back into education and to becoming a principal.

He concluded by quoting Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

Similarly, Superintendent Michael Graner encouraged the class, “Continue your journey with an open mind, and courageously define who you are and what you will become,” saying that, unfortunately, too many let conventional wisdom define them.

He pointed to writer Alex Haley, whose blackness initially constrained his role in the U.S. Coast Guard but who became the first chief journalist in the service after the admiral recognized his writing talents.

Graner encouraged graduates to “reject false limitations,” and to “embrace civility and model decency in a world that is increasingly divided.”

Fitch High School started a tradition in 2011 of selecting a commencement speaker by having students submit speeches, and this year’s speaker was Casey Flax.

“We walked in as awkward and confused freshmen; we walked out as possibly less awkward and confused freshmen, the main difference being we now know the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell,” she joked, referencing a slogan that has been drilled into the brains of high schoolers across generations.

“Being a teenager absolutely sucks,” Flax said, saying she and her peers “must remember that we are not perfect and no one expects us to be.”

She told her classmates to remember that once a Falcon, always a Falcon.

Class President Britney Touissant characterized her class as ambitious, persistent and diligent.

“I will forever admire the times where we united together for one single cause, making our mark on Fitch,” Touissant said. She citing driving into painted parking spaces, putting on a great Mr. Falcon show and stepping out of their comfort zone.

Salutatorian Andrew Kerst said that after most entered Fitch “having no idea who we really were or what we were doing,” they came to accept one another and build strong bonds with classmates, teammates and friends.

e.moser@theday.com

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