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Robert E. Fitch High School graduates the Class of 2017

Groton — Valedictorian Amelia Anderson told the 247 graduates of the Robert E. Fitch High School on Friday that there will always be another hurdle to cross, another level to climb and a higher level to aspire to.

But she said, “It’s not the outcome that makes the accomplishment, but rather all the little present moments along the way.”

As the Class of 2017 celebrated its commencement in the high school auditorium, Principal Joseph Arcarese highlighted its accomplishments. Three students were accepted at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, one student was accepted at the U.S. Naval Academy and the class collectively received $1.9 million in scholarships and awards.

The graduates included three all-state musicians, one all-New England musician, and eight musicians who made all eastern regionals. Two fencers achieved more than 100 wins.

The marching band won the New England Championship three out of four years, placed in the top five in the national championship; the robotics team won the New England championship and placed at the national championship; the softball team had a career record of 99 wins and nine losses in four years, while winning three Eastern Connecticut Conference championships and two state championships.

Noelle Butler, president of the class and salutatorian, told her classmates to create themselves by finding experiences to carry through life. “From here on out, you choose how you want to be defined, not how others would define you,” she said. “The best thing about life is that we are constantly redefining and being redefined.”

Janeen Porter, who delivered the commencement address, said she has learned how to take advantage of the value of opportunities. “I believe that being able to see your potential and comprehend the valued opportunities is such an important aspect to our futures,” she said.

Anderson told the class that life can be unpredictable, and she’s undecided about what she wants. But she’s decided to embrace that.

“Wherever you are on the spectrum of knowing what you want, I encourage you to untie yourself from your plans,” Anderson said. “I’m not suggesting that you let them go. But loosen your grasp on them. Don’t let them confine or define you. Instead, allow yourself to be tossed around a bit.”

Superintendent Michael Graner said the world needs smart and kind young people with the courage to discover and live out their purpose. He told the story of Melba Patilla Beals, a black student who was one of the "Little Rock Nine" in 1957. Beals transferred to the all-white high school where President Dwight D. Eisenhower called in the National Guard to escort the students.

"Work hard to develop your intellectural skills, but also think about having the courage to be kind, to find your purpose and passionately pursue it," Graner said.


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