By Lindsay Carey
For the second year in a row, school officials held a military luncheon to honor thae graduates from the Class of 2014 who are joining the service after graduation.
The 12 graduates recognized at Wednesday’s luncheon were Daniel Brown, Myles Colon, Melissa Dube, Michael Hoffman, Visoud Kong, Jeffrey Kroeber, Emilie Labouliere, Anthony Mamula, Zachary Maxwell, Dylan Roach, Kyle Summa, and Matthew Voelker.
Interim superintendent Karen Smith, who led much of the ceremony, proudly recognized students she has seen grow up in the Southington school system. Smith said it was an emotional afternoon for her, because she knew six of the graduates from elementary school. She even had Maxwell as a student in her kindergarten class.
Smith presented the graduates with certificates and special military chords to wear at graduation. She, along with the town’s Veterans Partnership, presented the graduates with military caps, military challenge coins, and blue star banners.
The blue star banners provided by the Veterans’ Partnership will set the graduates up with laptops once they get out of basic training so that they can communicate with their families.
Town Manager and veteran Garry Brumback also emphasized the importance for graduates to maintain communication with their loved ones in his speech.
“You know where you are and what’s going on, but your families don’t,” said Brumback. He advised the young men and women to remember to reach out to their families in the midst of having a good time.
Detailing the advice his grandfather had given him when he joined the service, Brumback gave the graduates with his own words of guidance. He encouraged the graduates to volunteer for every opportunity the military will offer –from education, a career path, travel to even blowing things up.
He commended the students for joining the military, saying, “An individual willing to sacrifice their life is the highest form of a patriot.”
For Hoffman, joining the military was a decision that came naturally. It was something that he had considered for five years.
As a history buff, Hoffman said he felt the call to make history by serving the country as others had once sacrificed for him. Though concerned, his parents remain supportive of his decision to be a U.S. airman.
Kong, on the other hand, did not always know he would enlist. In the middle of his senior year, Kong decided that the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve was the next step for him.
“It wasn’t just the opportunities or the benefits that they offer, but the patriotism,” said Kong.
For Kong, becoming a Marine is a way to show his appreciation for the country. Kong is the first in his family to serve and said his parents were proud of his decision.
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By Lindsay Carey