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JOEL BARLOW HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2011 GRADUATION
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Members of the Joel Barlow class of 2011 toss their caps in the air following graduation ceremonies at the O’Neill Center on Monday evening. — Scott Mullin photo
Grads bid farewell, look ahead
by Mike Russo
firstname.lastname@example.org In a bittersweet ceremony at the William A. OʼNeill Center in Danbury before more than a thousand family and friends on Monday evening, Joel Barlow High School bid farewell to its 2011 graduating class and remembered a student who died in an accident earlier this year. The 215 members of the graduating class were escorted into the center by bagpipers, which blended into Pomp and Circumstance as the graduates filled the floor surrounded by thunderous cheers for their arrival. Victoria Cervone, class secretary, greeted the graduating class and opened the ceremony by welcoming Dr. Michael Cicchetti, superintendent of the Easton, Redding and Region 9 school districts, Thomas McMorran, head of school, other school administrators and Region 9 Board of Education members. Victoria said during a brief address that the process and extent of the studentsʼ growth throughout their lives has been “remarkable... “Individually and collectively, we have celebrated our successes and faced our challenges, which has shaped our growth,” she said. “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to spend these important years at Barlow, which has prepared us well as we embark on the next chapter of our lives.” Before presenting the class to Dr. Cicchetti, Mr. McMorran told the graduates and the audience that it is his responsibility to assure regular and proper attendance at school events. He said that before the ceremony, he noticed one member of the class was not present, acknowl“Take a moment to be kind, to smile, to stop and chat, to make sure that you have brightened someone elseʼs day,” he said. Mr. McMorran recalled how Rob “ambled” his way through the hallways, taking time to make reassuring comments to timid freshmen or worried sophomore students. “Rob was always assuring you all that it would all work out OK,” he said. Mr. McMorran also “charged” the graduates to thank their parents, family members or those who filled those roles for helping them “get there,” on graduation day. “Let today be a celebration, full of kindness, photos with genuine smiles and gratitude,” he said. “The rest will take care of itself.” Following Mr. McMorranʼs address, members of the graduating class dedicated a heartfelt a cappella rendition of the Beach Boysʼ “God Only Knows” to Robʼs memory. In addition, during the presentation of honorary diplomas, Kiersten Camille and John Smuniewski accept a photograph of the Class of 2011 that Walker and Maximilian Solomon, was signed by all members in honor of their classmate, Rob Smuniewski, who Robʼs lifelong friends, presented the died in an accident earlier this year. To Mr. Smuniewski’s right is Rob’s sister Smuniewski family, Robʼs parents Mary (holding the roses), and Chrissy (Robert’s twin sister), an unidentified woman, and students Camille and John and his sisters Mary and Christine with a framed portrait of presenting the photo, Kiersten Walker and Alexander Schettino. — Mike Russo photo the graduating class signed by all of edging the absence of Robert Smuniewski, ates before calling Robert to attendance three the students, which was followed by thunder18, of Easton, a very well-liked student by his times followed by a bell that tolled with each ous applause. classmates and faculty at Barlow. Rob was request. Anne Kipp, assistant principal at Barlow Following a long pause, Mr. McMorran said who is retiring after 33 years at the high school, killed in an accident involving an ATV on Jan. he believed Robertʼs spirit “is with us” today. was honored with an honorary diploma. Also, 8. During Mr. McMorranʼs address to the class, Joan Parker, principal of Helen Keller Middle He then asked two students, Robertʼs closest friends, Alexander Schettino and Maximilian he shared a lesson on “how to live oneʼs life” Solomon, to stand among the sea of gradu- that he learned from Rob. See Grads on page 13A
by Erica Rigby
There was this one day in early April when I didnʼt just walk across the senior parking lot ... I strode. As I casually entered Barlow, I strut my stuff down the senior hallway and it became evident that, immediately, everybody was entranced. Every comer that I turned, students came flocking toward me to see that I was, for the first time, wearing my Tufts University sweatshirt. The hushed whispers were bombarding my ears and giving me a migraine, but understandably, the Barlow populace was just a little stunned. They werenʼt expecting that Iʼd come in having made this monumental decision about going to college. I was now a student at this elite university. Because ya know, Tufts University, by the way, is a breeding ground for the worldʼs future ambassadors. Eventually, the chorus of congratulatory remarks became a familiar refrain. I marched on and my adoring audience followed until I entered psychology. We were studying life stages, and todayʼs class was all about the adolescent phenomenon known as “the spotlight effect.” There ended my selfabsorbed euphoria. According to this psychology teacher, you and I are currently in the midst of a phase where we perceive that we are in the spotlight every waking moment. I nearly choked. Does this professor really think that I have an inflated ego? I listened further, but kept a stiff upper lip. He was rambling ... saying that there has been significant research that confirms young people are naive about their homogeneity within their culture. Apparently, it is common knowledge that until adulthood we are bound to grossly overestimate our importance on this Earth. I glared at this guy and then lifted my chin at my peers around me in search of a mutual reaction. How dare he dismiss our potential in the world? Ugh. So, in other words, this uniqueness is actually a delusion that I suffer from. Needless to say, the rest of the day I felt exposed. There was this strange desire within me to rebel. I mean now that I knew “the spotlight effect” was a staple of my childhood, I thought I ought to accelerate this adolescence and grow up. Instead of waiting a few years to lose the ego, I decided to banish it from that moment on. So long, narcissism! I thought. Farewell, self-absorption. Today, I bid my ego adieu! That was, in essence, how I was going to stifle all my pride. Just be modest. Invisible, even. Time out. If we step back and shed some light on the present moment, weʼll see that in this grand olʼ auditorium, among over a thousand people, I have been granted the opportunity to address the class of 2011 yet Iʼve already uttered those taboo pronouns “Me,” “Myself,” and “I” an estimated 143 times. Evidently, that resolution that I made to be humble ... was aborted. However, Iʼve come to some conclusions over the last few months about
See Ego on page 13A
Commencement speaker Erica Rigby addressed the crowd. — Scott Mullin photo
THE EASTON COURIER, THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2011
by Adam Torres
Iʼll bet you expect a speech thatʼs preachy and wordy But Iʼm trying a new tactic, that I hope you wonʼt find to be nerdy I designed this speech to neglect status quo With a piece that I think has a much better flow But youʼll be the judge and soon we will see So letʼs give it a try and see what will be Itʼs joyful! Itʼs jolly! Justified for the times! Something fresh! Something fun! Why not something that rhymes! Today we reflect whatʼs transpired over years The highs, the lows, the excitements, the fears
Remember lessons weʼve learned, our minds feeling drained The tests that we took, on material not retained
Commencement speaker Adam Torres read his poem. —Scott Mullin photo
From acting, to singing, to playing in the band From running, to hitting, and cheering in the stands Our novel of high school will write the last chapter Iʼm happy, Iʼm sad, itʼs a bittersweet disaster Final pages in our book are continuing to turn With emotions and feelings my stomach does churn We leave seasons of memories: winter, spring, summer and falls We leave teachers and friends, and yes, even salmon-colored walls Remember Pearlʼs orders to stop running in the halls Or DelAngeloʼs wacky over-the-announcement calls The Media Center will forever be a reminder When Ms. Goldstein wrote your name in the to-be-kicked-out binder Looking back on the years, weʼve discovered much on our own From arithmetic to history, boy have we grown But where does that leave us in the glorious game of life? Having gained the victories and maneuvered through the strife? Well, weʼve been given the tools to write the sequel to Barlowʼs book So like weʼve been taught, weʼll start with a dynamic hook Some are off to college, some are off to work Others travel the globe, with a wink and a smirk I look back on the years digesting all that I learned And look out to the future with little concern Barlow has taught me well, and Iʼm now ready to go The future is bright if I apply what I know Iʼm no Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain, Shakespeare or Poe But I do have three things that I want you to know The first is not magic but does take some guts You canʼt sit around, so get off of your butts! Stand strong and steadfast, run boldly through thorns! Be courageous, face your fears and take life by the horns! If you go through life without a bruise or a scrape Your potential will never be allowed to escape Call for the ball, or step up to the plate Donʼt hesitate to ask that cutie for a date You wonʼt always win and you surely will sweat But at least you did try, and will have no regret While I advocate taking risks and daring to break through Donʼt be stupid and do things that youʼd want to undo This leads to the second point that I wish to tell, Itʼs not complex, but simple, and has served me quite well Itʼs handy, itʼs helpful, itʼs never misled My little trick is simple ... itʼs called thinking ahead From little things like putting on sunscreen at the beach To important ones like writing a graduation speech Forethought is a tool which can yield many a reward Itʼs a weapon mightier than both the pen and the sword Ignorant people often ready, shoot, then aim And run around after, looking for someone else to blame Take time to plan, and aim straight and true It will keep you from missing or putting a bullet in your shoe The unexpected will happen so why should you care? Because, with a good plan you are usually prepared But every now and again we are hit by surprise And no form of planning can answer the why Here, I am referring to our fallen comrade The upbeat and popular guy who never was sad! Would he want us to be feeling down in the dumps on this day? Of course not! Thatʼs something Rob would not say! There is a quality that we should all take from our good friend As our time with administrators, and amigos, comes to an end When speaking his mind, Rob would plow straight ahead We should follow his lead and leave nothing left unsaid This doesnʼt mean saying what simply pops in your head Itʼs not a license to be spiteful or to turn a face red I tried and I struggled in learning this lesson There are many things good and bad, I desired to mention “Congratulations! Good work! Hey man, your fly is wide open Not fair. Donʼt do that. May I make a suggestion?” Itʼs not healthy to hold back feelings or advice Donʼt regret not sharing for the rest of your life Clear your conscience, promote honesty and improve your self-worth Be constructive, give advice, and improve the whole earth Itʼs all good, with no bad blood or pointless attacks We all work together and have each otherʼs backs So, class of 2011, remember the value of risk taking and thinking ahead And keep with you always, Robʼs lesson of nothing left unsaid On the latter I speak for the class when I add Thanks to you teachers, administrators, and especially our moms and our dads Now, I should probably wrap up with all these absurd rhymes I hope that I didnʼt take too much of your time While this experience was not like a fox in a box, or a cat in the hat I hope that my words were heard, lead you to ponder down yonder and possibly even think at the sink Now, for the ceremony to ensue I must bid you adieu with a bow and a sincere... Thank you!
Joel Barlow High School 2011 Graduates
Jillian R. Ahluwalia Camilla Bente Albertsen Wesley Dalton Aldershof Charles David Ambler Abigail Christine Angelo Natalie Anne Astorino Edmund Thomas Auer Annabelle Aniela Augustyn Ryan Matthew Barney Sanjit Kumar Basak-Smith Clair Marie Belleveau Alexis Nicole Benedetto Steven Joseph Birarelli Alexandros A. Bletsas Nicholas Van Sant Bodine Ross Macklin Boehme Fabrienne Silvana Bottero Delaney Claire Bracken Megan Kathleen Brennan Jonathan Parker Brozdowski Matthew Timothy Bruhin Gregory Michael Burke Caroline Josephine Caglioni Nathaniel Sheridan Calvert Paul John Camomilli Samuel Elias Canter Britta Anne Carlson Emily Paige Carpenter Victoria Alice Cervone Christopher William Cheal Lydia Chen Alexandra Elizabeth Churchill Taylor Nicole Clemenza MacKenzie Rae Cohane Soirette Collado Andrew John Collins Kiera Lynn Conlon Kasey Leeanne Cooper Emily Paige DʼAlessandro Cassandra Alexis Dahms Meredith Kate Davey Nicolas Alexander Dee Casey Lynne DeLorenzo Thomas James DeSimone Nelson Alberto Diaz Brandon Eric Dominguez Emily Elizabeth Downer Erin Eileen Dyroff Jacqueline Adelaide Eckhardt Taylor Lynn Eden Jessica Leigh Ehrens Amanda Crystal El-Haj Sarah Rose Esposito Raymond Michael Fagan Jonathan Michael DuqueFerreira Ryan Justin Filbin Nathaly Flores Sean Patrick Foley Paul Eugene Fry Racael Abigail Wagstaff Fulton Kristina Ursula Gaffney Stephanie Nadine Gambino Michael Garceau Sean Patrick Geaney Sonia Marie Giorgio Matthew Harris Goldberg Matthew David Gombos Hannah Elizabeth Gonzalez Allison Rose Gorbach Nicholas Virgot Granfors Payton Lyndsay Green Sam N. Greenhill Peter Z. Griffin Victoria Alecia Grimes Diana Carson Gryszkiewicz Kelly Lynn Haines Sean Joseph Hanczor Robert Barnes Harder Phoebe Jane Hart Alex Gerard Hayes Jeffrey Wallace Heitsmith Toby Harold Hesketh-Tutton Edward Patrick Higgins Luke Ashton Patrick Holden David Charles Hollings Timothy Michael Hushion Hope Lee Ianiri Douglas James Indelicato Adam Ryan Jacobs Callie Lucielle Jensen Fiorella Dominici Johnson Daniel Dongwoo Kang Peter Nichols Katz Jessica Laura Khamarji Allison Rose Kiefer Garrett Paul Kiely Matthew Cameron Kipp Sam Joseph Kivell Maria Kokenos Patrick MacKenzie Koleszar Nicholas H. Kominski Tierney Jean Kreussling Kathleen Kuhsel Maria Nicole Lambeck Jillian Alexandra Leone Alexander Paul Lewson Colin John Liik Madeline Telford Lindner Joseph Eric Lipovich
At top, Peter Griffin gives a thumbs-up to graduation while sitting next to Payton Green. Above, Alexandros Bletsas claps for the speaker. At left, Abigail Angelo receives her diploma. Below, Grace Wainright gets a hug from a fellow grad. — Scott Mullin photos
Harrison Mack Lipton Gordon John Loery Linnea Jane Logie Danielle MacGregor Veronica Ann Magner Jeremiah Christian Mahadeo Max Harris Malec Lindsay Alessandra Hope Mallozzi Lauren Nicole Mancinelli Evan Michael March Kevin James Marino Maxine Elizabeth Maroun Sebastian Louis Martinez Marshall Douglas Maxwell Michael Patrick McGowan Ryan Timothy McGowen Clare Louise McLaughlin Molly Erin McQuade Victoria Elizabeth Mirowski Devon Elizabeth Morgan Phoebe Grace Morrison Timothy Edward Mulberry Hailey MacKenzie Murphy Jacob Naber Samantha Cecilia Neff Natalie Nell Neubert Francis Egan OʼBrien III Kathleen Devin OʼBrien James Wilding OʼRielly Michael David Orticelli Vanessa Irene Pagan Robert D. Palazzo Zachary Alexander Palmer Rebecca Claire Pawson Stephen Michael Peloso Alexandra Grace Pemberton Maxwell Thomas Pendleton Despina Petridis Georgia Bennett Pinter Kyana Sue Powers Dylan Andrew Prevelige David Michael John Quatela Kyle Lawrence Raskin Connor Richard Regan Melanie Mylin Reyes Erica Megan Rigby Michael Thomas Rodriguez Heather Elizabeth Rohde Timothy Patrick Rooney Ian Louis Rosamilia Emily Margaret Ross Victoria Rose Rude Kelly M. Ryan Benjamin Sammartano
Annis Khalil Saniee Casey Tyler Saunders Dina Anne Scalo Lorna Elizabeth Schenck Rachel Helen Schenck Alexander Schettino Benjamin Jacob Schneck Conner Hendrik Schuurmans Olivia Anne Seymour Hannah Dylan Sherman Zachary Paul Sherman Alex Charles Sigel Shana Ashley Sims Maximilian Monroe Solomon Andrew Bogardus Spears Arianna Spinelli Kathryn Marie Saint Raymond Madeleine Paige Stein Justin Martin Stenerson Brian Kenneth Richard Sternberg Jeremy Marshall Stewart Tyler David Stirling Paul Lawrence Stone John Thomas Sullivan Sean Boyce Sullivan John Vincent Tenore
Adam James Torres Emma Rae Traggianese Elizabeth Ann Truscott Adam Philip Twersky Zachary James Upton Peter J. Valenti IV Jamie Jolene Van Clief Juliette Monica Vig Peter Viscio Luke Augustus Konrad Vogel Courtney Elizabeth von Dwingelo Grace Lily Wainright Kiersten Elizabeth Walker Lars Anders Wallin III Austin John Ward Maegan Lund Ward Renee Rhodes Wasko Samuel Ross Campbell Weber Kaitlyn Elizabeth West Harrison Broach Wheeler Kimberly Anne Wilson Alison Elizabeth Wood Andrew Samel Wyton Megan Yeh Hailey Elizabeth Young
THE EASTON COURIER, THURSDAY, JUNE 23, 2011
The salutation was delivered by Victoria Cervone, class secretary.
Joseph Lipovich gets his diploma from Mark Lewis, Region 9 school board chairman.
Members of the Class of 2011 sang “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys a cappella in memory of Robert Smuniewski, a member of the class who died in an accident in Easton earlier this year.
Nicolas Dee congratulates a fellow grad after getting his diploma.
Scott Mullin photos
Victoria Mirowski, Maria Kokenos and Despina Petridis look at graduation photos on a digital camera.
Top 10 students
University of Chicago
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Continued from Page 10A School who passed away following a battle with illness in November 2010, was recognized with an honorary diploma. During the student speeches, Erica Rigby, who will be attending Tufts University in Boston, Mass., in September, remembers the day she was accepted to the college. Erica said that day, she proudly “strode” with a sense of euphoria across the parking lot wearing her “Tufts University” sweatshirt on her way to her psychology class. During the class, the teacherʼs lecture that day was on the “spotlight effect phenomenon,” a theory that suggests that adolescents are living in the “spotlight” every waking moment, a theory that prompted an end to her “self-absorbed euphoria,” Erica said. However, Erica said over the last few months, she has come to conclusions on the theory, blaming “Barney” for thinking “we” are so special. She
added her second conclusion was that as graduates, “we are entitled to be full of ourselves.” “Sand in the hourglass is descending rapidly. If you so desire to conquer the globe, now is the time,” she said. “With this high school diploma clutched in your hand, do it simply because you think you can.” Shifting gears, Adam Torres, the second class speaker, who will be attending Johns Hopkins University in the fall, gave a non-traditional poetic rhyme in his address to his classmates. “From acting to singing, to playing in the band, From running to hitting and cheering in the stands. Our novel of high school will write the last chapter, Iʼm happy Iʼm sad itʼs a bittersweet disaster,” he said. Dr. Cicchetti, who will be retiring on June 30, recognized the top 10%, approximately 20 students, in the graduating class before the distribution of diplomas. He was most impressed with their “dedication and perseverance” in achieving academic excellence, he said. Dr. Cicchetti told students that as he prepares for his retirement, he was inspired by the book, Things They Carried, by Tim OʼBrien, given to
him by a student, which is a fictional account of an infantry unit in Vietnam and the items they kept. He said as he reflected on the book, he was reminded of the graduating students. “Each one of you will decide what you will carry from the familiarity of Joel Barlow High School into the unfamiliarity of your futures,” he said. Dr. Cicchetti said he also related his own experience of filling a “backpack” to a “less familiar” routine after 35 years in public education. “I am going to pack that book that student gave me to remind me that we can learn so much from each other, especially from the students we teach,” he said. For students, he said, they might want to pack a proud moment at Barlow or an accomplishment they thought was beyond their reach. “With those items, pack the selfknowledge of what you did, what it took and how you persisted in that achievement,” he said. Mr. McMorran said his first day at Barlow was also the first day of this yearʼs graduating class as freshmen. “Your class was the most loving, warm and supportive to each other, and I hope you take that with you into your future,” he said.
Continued from Page 10A “the spotlight effect.” The first conclusion is that if we graduates of Barlow ought to be handcuffed for thinking weʼre so special in our own way, then, well, I think we should blame one thing: Barney. The second conclusion is that if the theory says that we are self-absorbed savages, then doesnʼt that imply that weʼre surrounded by grown-ups who are defeated and world-weary? The adults among us are thriving, yes, but theyʼve slipped out of the spotlight and are now ... kinda wallflowers. No confidence, no faith, no stamina! How tragic. So we graduates are destined to be full of ourselves ... you know, perhaps itʼs about time that we embrace it. Actually, my esteemed colleagues, this may be a great advantage to achieving our aspirations. If this is the peak of our delu-
sion, then letʼs get some worlddomination cracking. The sand in the hourglass is descending rapidly. If you so desire to conquer the globe, now is the time. Organize a blood drive in town, figure out a way to slow climate change, even earn a Nobel Peace prize. With this high school diploma clutched in your hand, do it, simply because you think you can. You are in the spotlight. Our eyes are fixed on you. That is, I guess, until you grow up a little. As members of the class of 2011, we may be a bit conceited. But, Iʼd argue that weʼre also hopeful, weʼre dreaming, and we are cockeyed optimists ... which make us the mightiest citizens on the planet. With dignity, and pride, and vanity, and swagger, let us now agree to resist the passage of time. Defy those creeping thoughts of bowing down, of inferiority, of resignation. Never, ever forfeit that ego of yours. It will be your faithful backscratcher in the world after high school. Itʼll hold the spotlight steady. Until we come together again at the high school reunion, good luck.
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