Every mortarboard tells a story at Windham High commencement
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Tue., Jun. 21, 2011
Windham High School senior Adam Turkas was philosophical about not getting to wear his towering model of the Stanley Cup on his mortarboard at the June 20 graduation.
“I only waited 17 years, but they waited 39 years,” he said of the Boston Bruins’ recent NHL championship. But teachers deemed the 3-foot-high model too distracting for commencement. He settled for the chance to show his Bruins pride with a couple of logos instead.
Many of WHS’s 170 grads chose to decorate their mortarboards, with trims ranging from photos of family and friends, to car logos, to 3-D stand-up lettering, to crystals. Some students painted designs or sentiments. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” said one.
And finally, at graduation, the secret to the Whippet girls’ basketball team’s state championship was revealed.
Conal Koppisch sported a picture of the one-eyed “Monsters, Inc.” character, Mike Wazowski, on his graduation cap. “He wore his Mike Wazowski t-shirt to every game,” said Morgan Phelps.
“That’s why we won,” Koppisch said.
Surveying the crowd of excited soon-to-be graduates was school psychologist Agnes Riera, who will be retiring this year after a three-decade career, the last eight years at WHS.
“These kids are so special, they really are,” she said. “With each one comes a story.”
Riera said that the four years of high school are “huge” for kids developmentally. “They enter high school and they’re kids. When they come out, they’re going to hit the world. They’re more mature,” she said.
Commencement speaker Brian Crudden, a veteran teacher and coach, was warmly cheered by the graduates as he offered them words of advice from a Toltec book of wisdom: “Be impeccable in your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and always do your best.”