'Golden grads' attend NFA commencement

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Jun. 20, 2011
'Golden grads' from the 50-year-reunion Class of 1961 assemble for a photo in Norwich Free Academy's rose garden.Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
'Golden grads' from the 50-year-reunion Class of 1961 assemble for a photo in Norwich Free Academy's rose garden.Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

When William “Mike” Sacrey left Norwich Free Academy, diploma in hand, in 1961, he walked straight into the history that the school’s Class of 2011 graduates studied.

“I went right into the Air Force,” he said. “I went to Berlin and watched them build the [Berlin] Wall. I thought I was going to fly in the airlift, but that didn’t happen – things got too busy in Cuba.”

Sacrey, who now lives in Maryland, was one of 84 50-year reunion classmates who attended NFA’s commencement as honored guests. They marched into the athletic field after the graduates had assembled, led by members of NFA’s bagpipe band.

A total of 509 graduates joined the ranks of NFA alumni on Friday, June 17, as skies held off the rain just long enough to hand out all the diplomas and squeeze in a few family photos.

Ivy Orator Paul Musso urged his classmates not to take life “one day at a time,” but to take the long view of how they invest their time. Describing how his GPA sophomore year was so low he almost felt “there was no point to trying to improve it,” Musso described his pivotal change of attitude.

“My failure led me to the path I now walk,” he told the Class of 2011. “Think about today, think about tomorrow, and think about the future.

“Today dictates the path to your future. Make it a good one.”

Class orator Stephen Piotrkowski told the assembly stories of the “everyday heroes” he witnessed among his classmates over the years, people who gave their time to help struggling classmates navigate an unfamiliar language, an intimidating job market, or even economic hard times.

These quiet leaders, Piotrkowski said, are the ones who “take the possible and make it inevitable.”

“Look to your left and your right,” he told the seniors. “Understand that each of you must be a leader… Look at yourself and realize you are this leader.”

The evening’s first diploma, to class president Michael Grant, was presented by Dr. Abraham Chamie, who is retiring this year after a 21-year tenure teaching mathematics at NFA.


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