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The Williams School celebrates 2021 graduates at new athletic complex

As classical music played, graduates adorned in white dresses, red roses and navy blazers made their big entrance on new turf.

The Williams School celebrated its Class of 2021 during the 130th commencement ceremony Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the school's new athletic complex in Waterford.

Among one of the New London school’s largest graduating classes, the group of 50 was noteworthy. Ten graduates were international students from China and were not present during the ceremony but were nonetheless recognized.

Thirty of the graduates were the school’s “experiments,” as Uzair “Ozzie” Alam, the senior class-elected commencement speaker said in his speech. He himself was a part of the school’s first sixth-grade class. Previous to 2014, the Williams School taught only seventh through 12th grades.

“From the beginning, the Class of 2021 was destined to be different,” Alam said.

He spoke eloquently of his multitalented classmates for persevering through the coronavirus pandemic and “shattering” expectations, thanking the many community members who were part of their journey.

To show some of their many talents, graduate Cassius Kane did a performance of “Beautiful City” and graduates Emiko Fletcher and Gabriella Seidel performed “For Good” from the musical "Wicked."

Once a Williams School student herself, Ana Schavoir, an English teacher, addressed the audience and group of graduates, telling them from a firsthand account that they will “always have the love and support” of their family, friends, teachers and the community.

In his address, Head of School Mark Fader spoke of “breaking tradition.” Much like with everything else, the pandemic has reinvented and changed the way things were traditionally done at the school.

“While going off-campus at lunch, the Senior Homecoming Dance and the two seasons of athletics were canceled ... we finished the year creating new traditions and bringing joy for all,” Fader said.

Students noted that the community of teachers at the school was integral to their academic achievement. Graduate Elizabeth Leake of Westbrook will be attending Villanova University in Pennsylvania, where she will be studying criminology and pre-law come fall, and she owes it to her education at Williams.

“I came from a public school and was behind in math,” Leake said. “The teachers helped me achieve my goal of going to college.”

“These kids showed incredible resiliency,” said Bo Parish, school director of dance. “They excelled at seeing a challenge and incorporating it into their lives and learned from it.”

j.vazquez@theday.com

Megan Bucchi, left, and Julianna Ball hug at the end of the Williams School graduation ceremony Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the school's athletic complex in Waterford.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Megan Bucchi, left, and Julianna Ball hug at the end of the Williams School graduation ceremony Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the school's athletic complex in Waterford. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Photo gallery

For a gallery of more photos from The Williams School graduation ceremony, click here.

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