NEWTOWN, Conn. – Over 400 members of the Class of 2016 from Newtown High School lined up Saturday morning and marched into the O’Neil Center to celebrate their big graduation day.
The faculty led the line of students into the center on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University, where they took their seats and were greeted by the familiar strains of “Pomp & Circumstance.”
The Chamber Choir, directed by Jane Matson, followed with the National Anthem.
Principal Lorrie Rodrigue addressed the students and the crowd of friends and family. “You decide what life you want. It starts with all that you’ve learned, the relationships you’ve built, experiences you’ve gained, and your persistence in discovering where you want to go and who you want to become,” she told the graduating class.
Rodrigue also expressed her pride in all the student successes in athletics, academics and public service.
For the musical interlude, the chamber choir sang “In My Life,” a classic Beatles song.
Samantha Dion delivered a message from the Class Council, and Sean MacMullan gave the salutatorian address.
Ted Kohler, president of the Newtown Scholarship Association, announced the many scholarships awarded to members of the graduating class. Kohler also noted that 54 students from the Class of 2016 will be awarded needed scholarships equaling about $110,000. In addition, the foundation will be awarding another $333,000 “in continuing aid to those attending college,” Kohler said.
Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. then spoke, encouraging the students to work hard during the summer before they go off to begin the next phase of their lives.
“Never forget to have fun,” Valedictorian Caelan Ritter told his classmates just before they were awarded their diplomas.
Another heartfelt speech came from Edward Obloj, a teacher at Newtown High. Obloj told how he began college as an engineering major, then at the last minute wanted to change to history. He explained that it wasn’t until the end his last school year that he was inspired to become a teacher.
Keith Alexander certified the Class of 2016 to receive their diplomas. Diplomas were passed out by Kelsey Miller, Kayla Kordish, Brandon Qiao, and Megan Schumacher. Once the diplomas were passed out, the members of the Class of 2016 were able to shift their tassels from right to left, indicating that they were all now officially graduates of Newtown High School.
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