SHS graduates come together at commencement

Southington High School Class of 2017 valedictorian Nickolina Doran addresses her classmates during her commencement address at graduation. Doran will attend Yale University next year to study biomedical engineering and Spanish. On Tuesday, June 20, nearly 500 students received diplomas during commencement exercises. (Photo by Kelly May Del Debbio)



Seated before their families, friends, teachers, and peers on Tuesday, June 20, a class of 492 Southington High School seniors were joined together one last time. The commencement ceremony audience watched students parade onto the field, a sea of blue and white gowns occupying the 50-yard line.

What they didn’t see, however, were the true final moments shared by the Class of 2017.

Students were scrambling across the school, fixing their make-up in the bathroom, grabbing a selfie with their close friends, bumping fists and speaking sports banter, all while trying to make it to homeroom on time. It almost mimicked a normal school day…almost.

The difference this time? Teachers were organizing their homerooms, preparing to march them outside for commencement.

Jeremy Spooner, Brendan Taylor, and Brandon Stone paused in the hall for a moment before having to go their separate ways, staring at pictures of their younger selves.

“That’s me,” Spooner said, pointing to his photo. “I put on my cap and gown, and now I feel like an adult.”

To their surprise, the lockers outside of senior homerooms were decorated with enlarged pages from the Class of 2017’s elementary and middle school yearbooks, thanks to members of the all-night graduation committee.

“It doesn’t feel like it should be us,” Taylor said. “It went by so fast.”

Around the corner, Delilah Shea was trying to find her way through the school. Unlike the majority of the graduates, she attended the Alta education program at the Pyne Center instead of SHS.

“I’m really happy,” Shea said. “It was a long four years, but I made it.” The graduate said she is excited to attend Academy Di Cappeli to study cosmetology this fall.

Once everyone congregated on the field, commencement exercises began. During the ceremony, local dignitaries such as Board of Education chair Brian Goralski, Superintendent Timothy Connellan, and their principal Brian Stranieri addressed the graduates with words of wisdom, while championing them for their accomplishments.

Students also heard from their fellow classmates Nickolina Doran (valedictorian), Nathan Simard (salutatorian), and Laura Furtak (essayist) when they delivered their speeches about their high school careers.

Doran challenged her classmates to create a good life for themselves and to be happy.

The Class of 2017 accomplished a great deal during their SHS tenure. The top 99 students in the class have over a 100 grade point average. A total of 163 different community scholarships were awarded to the seniors, many with more than one recipient.

Ten students will serve the country through a branch of the military. About a third of the graduating class were active in sports—160 to be exact, and many more were involved with music, the arts, and other extra-curricular activities.

Board of Education secretary Colleen Clark said that graduation is the best night of the year. “It makes running for office worth it,” she said, “to hand out diplomas and see the looks on their faces.”

The ceremony concluded with the students flipping their tassels from the right side of their cap to the left, a traditional graduation gesture. Not long after, those caps were flying into the air as the students became the school’s newest alumni.

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