Jun. 11—VERNON — Students expressed gratitude, relief, and a sense of camaraderie at Rockville High School's 2021 graduation ceremony.
As they prepared to head into the school building before the ceremony began Thursday, graduates Jewel Tinson and Zach Larson looked back fondly on their experience at RHS.
"It was absolutely fantastic," Tinson said, adding that teachers and fellow students both helped make her experience a positive one.
Larson said his favorite part of his time at RHS was the familiarity he had with his classmates.
"When you go to college there are so many different people, but here you have your friends; you know where everybody is," he said.
Tinson agreed, adding, "This is home. This has been home for four years."
Tinson said she was relieved that she and her fellow graduates were able to have an in-person ceremony — a proposition that was in doubt not long ago.
"It's very special," she said. "I'm very happy that it's in-person, because in the beginning of the year there were a lot of doubts and we didn't think this was going to be possible. It's a lot of excitement, but also bittersweet because I've been here all four years."
Tinson said she plans on attending Manchester Community College before moving on to a four-year school. "I just want to get a little taste of everything before I pick a major," she said.
Larson said he will attend Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, and has not yet declared a major.
When asked what message they would like to send to their fellow graduates, both Tinson and Larson said their classmates should have pride in what they've accomplished.
"Be proud, and take it in because it's in-person," Tinson said.
"Be proud that we were able to do so much with everything going on," Larson added, referencing the pandemic.
Class President Allison Blume took a reminiscent tone in her speech, encouraging her classmates to remember the experiences that shaped them into young adults preparing them for the next phase of their lives.
"As we get our diplomas, I ask you all to take a glance at the building once more," she said. "Take yourself through all four years. Let go of that schedule that you've become so accustomed to as you start to navigate a new one. Familiarize yourself with something different and unknown. Together, let's cherish what we had, because soon enough we won't be on the same schedule."
Salutatorian Jennifer Simmons noted that many of the experiences she and her class expected to have as juniors and seniors were taken away because of the pandemic, but she said they "pushed on, having fun and making memories nonetheless."
Simmons, who garnered chuckles from the audience as she mixed humor with earnest advice, characterized the past four years as a time of self-discovery.
"I hope that somewhere in your inventory of precious memories, you learned something about yourself," she said. "Sure, learning how to say 'pencil sharpener' in Spanish and understanding projectile motion are interesting skills to have, but these past four years have shaped us into more than just containers for knowledge. There have been countless experiences. We've learned who we like to surround ourselves with, what we enjoy doing, and which bathrooms in the school are our favorite."
Valedictorian Emma Bator-Blanchet used the metaphor of life as a film to encourage her classmates to be both introspective and open-minded. She said everyone is the main character in their own story, but they also play a different role in the various lives of people they come into contact with.
"Our stories are the only way we can have some sort of insight into others' lives," she said. "We touch everyone we meet in different ways, with different words, in different worlds. It's important to spend time learning through others and hearing their stories."
Bator-Blanchet urged her classmates to think of their lives as movies and ensure that those movies are worth watching.
"I am the main character. I am the most confident person in the world. I am completely and utterly incomparable — and so are you," she said. "We are the only ones living our lives. The moment we have that mindset, our entire perspective changes. We start to notice the beauty within living and the beauty within ourselves."
These students graduated from Rockville High School on June 10.
Chelsea Acheampong, Alisha Adah, Alyssa Adcock, Nicholas Addicott, Christine Allen, Jackson Anderson, Ashley Arn-Hettrich, Saher Ashraf, Peter Asumani.
Deanna Babcock, Ian Bajorek, Charles Bannon, Abigail Bardon, Cecil Barrows III, Alexander Barry, Eric Bassick, Edward Bateman, Emma Bator-Blanchet, Allison Blume, Madeleine Brouillard, Arianna Brown, Mariah Bull, Jacob Bundy, Nathaniel Burgos, Kristyne Bussiere.
Madison Carangelo, Melanie Carlson, Morgan Carpenter, Muhammad Chaudhry, Vicky Chen, Zachary Clapp, Leidi Clark, Haley Cochran, Matthew Collopy, Julian Colon, Colby Cone, Amy Conyers, Ryan Corentin, Shawna Cote, Marius Cotori, Sara Cove, Jordyn Covert.
Cameron Daitch, Kathleen D'Amato, Eliza DeGiacomo, Hanna Dempsey, Alexander Dionne, Jason Doty, Justin Doty, Jesenia Doyon, Bryanna Engelhardt, Yacine Fall, Isabelle Fauteux, Victoria Fiengo, Aysia Fiora, Kevin Foley, Shawn Foley.
Kathryn Galvin, Rebecca Gochee, Gabriel Godwin, Luis Gomez III, Kimberly Gonzalez, Chauncey Gwynn, Elaina Hauser, Eliza Hayes, Emma Hill, Sydney Holt, Travis Hook, Autumn Janowski, Julian Jimenez, Shane Johansen.
Joseph Kaminski, Dylan Keegan, John Kelleher, Muntaha Khan, Zulkarnain Khan, Nasir Knighton, Daniel Krantz, Julia Kroegel.
Colton LaBrecque, Siobhain Lagasse, Zachary Larson, Clancy Lauzon, Tyler Leskey, Matthew Lindahl, Cody Linnell, Nathan Lowell, Cameron Lucas, Naomi Lueckel, Cory Luginbuhl.
Shajia Malik, Taliah Mangual, Brookelynn Martineau, Neilyn Martinez, Meghan McAuliffe, Ashley McCauley, Gabriel McCavanagh, Elijah McClellan, Dylan McClure, Lia Means, Jakob Mecca, Anjelica Mendoza, Anthony Mierez, Sophie Minella, Victoria Minietti, Dyamanee Monge, Makai Monts, David Moore, Chad Moreau, Leah Mullett, Ashley Mumley, Brianna Murphy.
Jessica Nelson, Joseph Nelson, Andrew Niemczyk, Hunter Ogren, Katelyn Ortolani, Alexander Pellicane, Gabriel Peña, Nicholas Perotti, Jessica Petrie, Bailey Piela, Mackenzie Pierce, Zachary Pinto, Kaitlyn Previti, Alexandria Prevost.
Jareed Ramirez, Dominick Resnickoff, Brennan Riggs, Samantha Rivera, Curtis Roggi, Joshua Rolon, Daryn Rosser, Nicholas Rouleau.
Saurav Sainju, Brianna Santiago, Logan Santos, Sarah Sasseville, Jenna Sheely, Mariah Shivers, Alexandra Silver, Caitlyn Simler, Carley Simler, Jennifer Simmons, Meghan Simmons, Nicholas Skabardonis, Kelly Smith, Erick Solis, Nicholas Sorrow III, John Steed, Tyler Stoner, Colin Sullivan, Lee Sullivan, Emily Sunderland.
Jonathan Taylor, Isaiah Thompson, Elijah Timmons, Jewel Tinson, Olivia Tourtelotte, Austin Tracy, Jennifer Uzoma Okoro, Abigail Vartanian, Jonathan Venable, Kellie Wallace, Matthew Walsh, Ava Ward, Samuel Wheeler, Jimmy Zárate.
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