SOUTHINGTON — Hundreds of Southington High School students celebrated graduation Friday while class leaders urged them to appreciate the present.
Speakers addressed the difficulties over the past to school year, the resilience of the class of 2021 and the need to take nothing for granted.
The ceremony was held on the football field.
“I feel grateful that we have been able to gather here today,” said School Superintendent Tim Connellan Appreciating the moment
Kevin Le, the class salutatorian, said he had time to reflect on his high school experience this year as four years wrapped up. He mostly remembered the stress, academic effort and drive towards the next goal. The pandemic showed him that nothing is guaranteed and that plans don’t always turn out as hoped.
“I’m afraid of losing my appreciation of what’s around me,” Le said. “We may become better than we could ever be by enjoying the moment and those around us.”
“Embrace the gift of the present,” Le said. “Your life is too valuable to waste it looking to the future.”
Uncertainty was also a theme for Matthew Luponio, the class president and essayist.
“During our time of isolation and separation from our friends and family, truly nobody knew what would happen,” he said.
Classmates were reduced to “two-inch boxes on a screen” and last summer was the longest in Luponio’s life.Resilience
Luponio quoted a line from Virgil’s “Aeneid” — “A joy it will be one day, perhaps, to remember even this.”
“We’ve beaten (the challenges) and come out the other side,” he said. “It is only in facing challenge that we can rise against it.”
Gabriel LeBlanc, class valedictorian, told the graduates that only they could define success in their own lives.
“We are not just graduating seniors. We are resilient young adults,” he said. “We can’t predict our future, but we can hold it and shape it.”
LeBlanc urged his classmates to find their niche.
“Take the next few years as they come,” he said.Changing roles
Friday’s graduation was the last for 497 seniors as well as Connellan, who’s retiring at the end of the month.
He challenged graduates to rise to the challenges as had previous generations and to become the next “greatest generation.” Connellan said they could be a generation that supported bipartisan discourse, accepted differences and embodied compassion.
Frank Pepe, Southington High School principal, also said his farewells as he’ll be leaving to take a new position with the district’s central office as assistant superintendent.
Veterans representatives Steve Pintarich and Steve McCarty congratulated four Southington seniors on deciding to join the military.