Norwich Tech sends 152 'everyday heroes' into the world as graduates

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Tue., Jun. 25, 2013
Teacher Lisa Elliot (r) poses with her graduating class of health technology students from Norwich Technical High School. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.
Teacher Lisa Elliot (r) poses with her graduating class of health technology students from Norwich Technical High School. Photo by Janice Steinhagen.

A small army of 152 “everyday heroes” left Norwich Technical High School on June 20, with diplomas and professional certificates in hand, ready to keep the world up and running. State Board of Education member Charles Jaskiewicz, guest speaker at the school’s 70th commencement exercises, told the new grads that their shop skills make sure that houses are correctly wired, that water flows in showers and cars keep running.

“You are the real heroes of the everyday world. Not the athletes, not the actors,” he said. The knowledge in their heads and hands must be completed, he said, with knowledge in their hearts.

Graduates of the state’s technical high schools receive not only a diploma but also a professional certificate in one of the school’s shops. At Norwich Tech, these shops include automotive, carpentry, computer-assisted design, culinary, electrical, graphics, hairdressing and barbering, health technology, heating/vacuum and air conditioning, marketing and entrepreneurship, plumbing, and pre-electrical engineering and applied electronics.

Salutatorian Gabrielle Tudisca, who earned her certificate in marketing and entrepreneurship, said she never thought she’d be addressing her class as salutatorian when she entered the school as a freshman four years ago. She recalled the Class of 2013’s four years at Norwich Tech, pointing out that they were the first class to spend all four years at the new Mahan Drive building. “The hardest part of this year has been saying goodbye,” she said. But, she added, “We won’t be leaving anybody behind.”

Justin Viens, an electrical shop graduate and two-time Skills USA champion who last year placed second in the nation in his competition, was the class valedictorian. “What a great opportunity God has given us with the privilege to walk away with the education we have received here,” he said.  Like Jaskiewicz, he said that the local community is filled with tech school graduates, “from the people who built this building to the people who are in here today.”

Principal Dr. Nikitoula Menounos told the students that their diplomas and certificates “open doors to employability as well as to higher education.” Following long-standing custom, after the commencement ceremony, the graduating seniors gathered in the school cafeteria to receive their paper diplomas from their shop teachers and bid their last goodbyes.

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