WALLINGFORD — Sheehan High School’s Class of 2022 took time before Wednesday night’s commencement ceremony to take photos with friends and teachers in the hallways of the school.
Graduate Madison LaChance said the culmination of high school was bittersweet.
“Thankfully we still have summer, but it is still sad,” LaChance said about leaving high school and classmates.
Soon after, the swarm of 213 graduates, sporting white and maroon gowns and holding orange carnations, lined up to walk down to John J. Riccitelli Field where the 6 p.m. ceremony was held.
Family and friends cheered and took photos as the procession walked by. Some in the crowd wore T-shirts with messages supporting their graduate, while others held balloons and flowers to give to students after the ceremony.
Class of 2022 members Vincent Atienza and Marissa Capozzo sang the National Anthem to start the ceremony.
Heather Rae Gaydowen, president of the National Honor Society, took to the podium next and acted as the master of ceremonies, introducing other speakers.
The first student speaker was Jayna MacKenzie, president of the class of 2022, who said her class helped change the “dull” atmosphere the school had during the pandemic.
“Instead of allowing this to become our new normal, we decided to show the underclassmen what Titan pride really was,” MacKenzie said.
Brennan Lagasse, class valedictorian, also looked back on how COVID-19 impacted their high school experience, emphasizing they “did not use COVID as (their) crutch.”
“Instead we fought to make our high school experience all that we dreamed of,” Lagasse said. “We faced unknowable challenges, but we had the strength to get out of bed, at least after hitting the snooze bar a few times, with the fire to fight for our betterment.”
After Vraj Patel, who represented the varsity scholars, made the crowd laugh with a joke about his high school experience, Vincent Cervoni, chairman of the Town Council, took the stage holding a ukulele.
“No matter what you do, make every year ahead of you, the next best year of your life,” Cervoni said before playing “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters.
Reporter Jessica Simms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.