Montville High School grads excited to move on to next chapter
Montville — The 177 members of the Montville High School Class of 2015 posed for group photos, group selfies and did the wave together one last time before marching into the auditorium Tuesday to receive their diplomas.
Graduating senior Kaylin Amado, who is headed to the University of Connecticut to study nursing, summed up the feelings of most of her classmates.
"I'm sad to leave, but excited to go on to a new chapter," Amado said.
The ceremony took place inside due to the erratic weather, and the overflow of guests watched on a large-screen television in the gymnasium. The high school celebrated its 50th anniversary by inviting Michael Stergio, a graduate of the Class of 1965, to deliver the keynote speech.
Stergio was a three-sport athlete and president of the student council in high school. While serving as a U.S. Marine, he was wounded in the Tet Offensive in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart.
He served as a Connecticut State Trooper for 20 years and was the town's resident trooper from 1973 to 1976. He served on the state Boxing Commission following his retirement.
"People of this town are what I call, 'Montville Tough,' '' Stergio told the seniors as he congratulated them on behalf of the 49 classes that graduated before them.
He said he had always been proud of the town's "blue collar" reputation while noting Montville has turned out doctors, lawyers, senior military leaders, tribal executives and many more contributors to society.
"It's not how many times you get knocked down that counts," he said. "It's the amount of times you get back up." Stergio received a standing ovation.
Class Valedictorian Benjamin Conover and Salutatorian Caitlin Turney delivered their speeches in tandem, recounting the many championships won by the school's athletes during the past four years, the memory of a prolonged lockdown at the school and the apparently unforgettable moment when "someone threw a potato at this year's pep rally."
They told their classmates, in unison, "It was fun. Now it's done. Let's get on with our lives."
Principal Jeffrey S. Theodoss delivered two key pieces of advice during his address.
"It is imperative that you believe in yourself," he said. Also, he said, "Don't end up as a lump on a log. Be a game changer."
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