Ellis Tech grads told skills will last a lifetime

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Jun. 24, 2013
H.H. Ellis Technical High School Class of 2013 valedictorian Amy Jeanne Skrzypczak addresses the audience. Photos by D. Coffey.
H.H. Ellis Technical High School Class of 2013 valedictorian Amy Jeanne Skrzypczak addresses the audience. Photos by D. Coffey.

H.H. Ellis Technical High School Principal Dr. Brian Mignault addressed a packed gymnasium on June 21 to say graduation would be delayed a few minutes. Nobody cared. The parents, families and friends of the class of 2013 were sitting in the brand new, air-conditioned gymnasium that's part of a complete overhaul of the school. It was finished in late fall to the delight of athletes, coaches and administrators. On Friday, with temperatures hovering in the 80's,  the graduates and throngs of their supporters took delight in it. When Mignault explained why they chose the gym for the ceremony, the audience gave him a rousing round of applause.

When Mignault addressed the graduating class just minutes later, he acknowledged that their last four years weren't always easy ones. “You've seen plenty of construction,” he said. Buildings have been taken down, parking lots moved, new walkways from temporary class units and business offices had to be created. New building was finished. Phase I plans turned into Phase II plans. But construction workers and vehicles continued to dominate the site. Rainy days left much of the site muddy. “It hasn't always been an easy road during your time here,” he said.

Then he congratulated them. “This class reflects a great spirit and togetherness,” he said. “Ellis Tech grads leave not only with academic knowledge, but [with] trade knowledge as well. It wasn't easy, and you did it. Congratulations.”
It was a theme repeated throughout the evening.

Mignault called the technical school system one of the state's best kept secrets. “Be proud of your skills. They will take you through a lifetime,” he said.
State Board of Education member Charles Jaskiewicz, III told the students they would succeed if the knowledge in their heads and hands were combined with passion. “You are the next generation of everyday heroes,” he said. “You're going to be fixing cars, building homes, and making sure our lives can function.”

Salutatorian Megan DeRouin said fellow Ellis Tech graduates learned not just theories, but trade skills. “Some discount technical school education,” she said, “but we've lived the pressure of deadlines. We have breathed the inconvenience of change.” The education received here will be the key to opening doors in your lives, she told her classmates.

The keynote speaker was Steven Lapointe, director of the Manufacturing Technology Center at Quinebaug Valley Community College. A 1978 Ellis Tech graduate, Lapointe started three businesses before being named director at the center. “Chase those dreams. Set your goals,” he said. “Ask yourselves every day, 'Am I the best I can be?'” 

Valedictorian Amy Skrzypczak brought some levity to the evening when she mentioned that the electrical shop class used the ongoing construction to learn about code violations. Skrzypczak will attend the University of Connecticut in the fall on a full Presidential Scholarship. She hopes to join the aerospace industry when she completes her studies.

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