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Class of 2013 looks to the future

Amid the sounds of air horns and bells, about 500 seniors received their Southington High School diplomas Friday, June 21.

Before the graduation ceremony, students walked the halls of the high school for the last time, snapping pictures with their friends and teachers.

“It feels really good,” Nicholas Charnysh said. “I’m really excited to go to college, but sad to leave.”

Charnysh said most of the seniors he knew shared that bittersweet sentiment. “It’s time to start a new chapter in our lives,” he said.

Haley Marquardt, though, is upset about leaving high school. “I’m sad,” the teary-eyed Marquardt said. “I don’t want to go. It’s exciting, but I’m just so sad to be done.”

The ceremony took place on the school’s football field, with parents, family, friends and faculty in attendance. School Superintendent Joseph Erardi said, “This evening will always be my highlight of the whole school year.” He congratulated the graduating class and honored the students who will be serving in the armed forces after graduation and called for 26 seconds of silence in memory of the children and teachers who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown last December.

“I am humbled to stand in front of you and to offer a bit of advice,” Erardi said. “Giving, caring and kindness can ensure all the graduates a successful life after SHS.” Class President Edmund Klein, one of the 10 students who are bound for military service, was unable to attend because he already left for basic training. He will be serving in the Army National Guard. His twin sister, Katlin, read his speech.

“Writing this speech is very bittersweet. This high school has been a rich environment for our success,” Katlin Klein said on behalf of her brother. “I’m so proud to call you my peers.”

Klein gave a special thanks to the Board of Education for recognizing her brother at a meeting two weeks ago, allowing him to receive his diploma early.

Class essayist Molly Potter spoke fondly of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.

“This simple story provided entertainment for us as children,” Potter said. “Little did we realize our teachers were using this story to teach us to overcome our fears and to try new things.”

Potter said that, within the next few years, the class of 2013 will face obstacles. She encouraged her peers to show no fear.

“Don’t forget,” Potter said, “when given the chance, always try the green eggs and ham.”

Jonathan La Follete, the class salutatorian, had one piece of advice for his fellow graduates: “Don’t forget to be awesome.”

La Follete said he hadn’t been sure what he wanted to say when he began working on his speech. For inspiration, he said, he turned to a frequent source: his friends.

“I started to compile a list of one-liners with my friends, but I didn’t want to sound clichéd,” La Follete said.

He told his classmates, “You just need to calm down,” then offered observations about the way people obsess over small things.

Next to speak was Valedictorian Bryan Davis. He shared his favorite quote from Mohandas K. Gandhi: “Learn as if you were to live forever and live as if you were to die tomorrow.” Davis said that, wherever he goes in life, he will never stop learning and never stop having fun.

“As soon as you can, find the perfect balance in between the two extremes, and I promise you, you won’t regret it,” Davis said. “What you learn is the quickest way to reach your goals. Don’t stop trying to learn because you think you already know enough.”

As the ceremony’s climax neared, SHS Principal Martin J. Semmel said, “Graduates, I can feel the excitement you are experiencing right now.”

Semmel said the seniors should feel nothing less than

Caption: Photo by Matt Leidemer The Southington High School graduation ceremony was held Friday, June 21. Some 500 seniors received their diplomas that evening.

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