Luncheon honors seniors entering the military

Locals recognized five Southington High School seniors that have enlisted in the U.S. military at the annual military luncheon at the municipal center last Wednesday. From left, Ethan Samselski (U.S. Coast Guard), Michael McLaughlin (ROTC Branch U.S. Marine Corps), Sarah Mafale (U.S. Navy) , Russel Hotchkiss (ROTC U.S. Air Force), and Kevin Coleman (U.S. Marine Corps). (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

By SHERIDAN ROY

STAFF WRITER

Five graduating Southington High School seniors were celebrated at the 2019 military luncheon for making the commitment to enlist in the military: Kevin Coleman (U.S. Marine Corps), Russell Hotchkiss (Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) U.S. Air Force), Sarah Mafale (U.S. Navy), Michael McLaughlin (ROTC branch U.S. Marine Corps—Virginia Military Institute) and Ethan Samselski (U.S. Coast Guard).

Members of the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, the Southington Veterans Committee, the board of education, school and town staff, veterans and school administration gathered with the students and their families at the municipal center

“At the high school, we are proud to make kids college or career-ready, as well as community-service-based ready,” said BOE chair Brian Goralski. “You have made the ultimate choice to serve our country, and you represent every one of us now.”

Goralski asked that students remember the community of Southington, and reminded them they are always welcome to return and teach others what they have learned.

Russell Hotchkiss is presented with the ROTC scholarship for the U.S. Air Force at the military luncheon at the Municipal Center last Wednesday.

Keynote speaker Greg Ferry, also the SHS athletics director and a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, offered students several words of advice. He told them taking the first step towards a goal is often one of the hardest steps, and reminded them to push forward and keep their goals within sight.

He also told students to remember they are in control of their actions and reactions.

“I give you this equation: ‘E+R=O.’ Event plus reaction equals outcome,” said Ferry. “Master your response. It’s hard, but you have the ability to do that and control your response.”

Ferry said this season, there had been several rain-outs that he as the athletic director had no control over. A number of practices and games were cancelled. Ferry said it was easy to feel frustrated, but reminded himself not to put a label on the situation and to focus on what he did have control over.

He reminded students a loss is not a loss but rather a learning experience, and told them to make adversity their advantage.

“A ‘fail’ is just a first attempt at learning,’” Ferry said. “It’s all in your frame of reference.”

Students each received several honorary mementos from the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72: a military challenge coin, a certificate, a blue star banner and a pocket flag. They also received a red, white and blue military cord from SHS administration to be worn on graduation day over their gowns.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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