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Norwich Tech grads told 'every day is a day to learn'

Norwich — Norwich Technical High School Class of 2019 valedictorian Matt Fells said that no matter where they go next, his classmates will face challenges, and he urged them to meet those challenges “straight on, with high expectations for yourself.”

Fells asked the class to picture a world where everyone lived up to his or her own potential.

If each of the 147 graduates, including himself, did that, “just imagine the effect that would have,” said Fells, who will be attending the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering in the fall on a presidential scholarship.

Class and Student Council President John Coleman outlined what’s next for the graduates. Some are entering the workforce and pursuing a trade. Others will be attending college and joining the military.

“New challenges start as opportunities. Embrace these challenges in doing your best,” Coleman said. “We must remember that every day is a day to learn.”

Coleman will be attending Three Rivers Community College in the fall, where he plans to study criminal justice with the goal of becoming an environmental conservation police officer.

As the graduates, dressed in blue caps and gowns, filed into the school’s gymnasium Friday night, the crowd stood, some with phones in the air to snap a photo or take a video of their loved one as they walked by. Others called out the name of individual graduates and waved. Balloons bounced in the air, and flowers sat on seats next to them.

Anaishalys Ramos, a student at Cutler Middle School, was there to watch her cousin Karen Preza Morales graduate. Preza specialized in culinary arts, an interest that derived from her mother, Samantha Morales, who’s a good cook, Ramos said.

Morales said her daughter will start school at Three Rivers in the fall and is planning to major in criminal justice. She said she’s not sure what made her want to make the switch from culinary to criminal justice.

There was not enough space in the gymnasium to fit everyone, so a crowd of people watched on a screen in the auditorium next door.

When preparing her speech, salutatorian Lena DeLaurentis asked both her mother and older sister what advice she should give to her fellow graduates. Both essentially told her that being an adult is hard.

“As you can see, I’m surrounded by extremely positive people,” she quipped.

DeLaurentis, who will be attending St. John’s University honors program as a psychology major, said she was so consumed by making her speech perfect that it made it feel like an impossible task.

“I want you all to avoid what I did when I sat down to write this speech,” she said. “Don’t get caught up in the need to make everything perfect, or what is conceived as the right way, for fear of failure.”

She then quoted an Italian saying that means only those who do nothing make no mistakes.

“Don’t let the fear of failing prevent you from taking every chance and opportunity that you come across in life,” she said.


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