Class of 2010 celebrates change
Class of 2010 celebrates changeBy Sarah L. Hamby - Staff Writer
When Killingly High School’s Class of 2010 walked across the field at 79 Westfield Ave. on June 18, the 135th Commencement Exercises celebrated not just the graduation of more than 175 students, but also the end of an era.
Next year’s freshmen class will enter a new building with a new principal and a new class advisor, and will create a new set of traditions for Killingly students. The Class of 2010, while graduating in the shadow of a prom night gone wrong for some, were bound and determined to put the past behind them and graduate with pride, underneath blue skies and in front of family and friends who cheered with admiration. Salutatorian Gabriel A. Violette started the evening off with a bit of tongue-in-cheek tech humor. Violette is off to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., where he plans to obtain a degree in gaming. In deference to his technological preference, Violette gave a non-traditional speech that allowed him to avoid public speaking altogether, but still managed to touch on the traditional requirements of a graduation address, holding his laptop in front of him as a pre-recorded message poured out of speakers and into the amused ears of his audience. In noting all that a diploma would do for him and his fellow students, his presentation also reminded the audience that, “A diploma is also decorative,” and he thanked family and friends. Violette concluded simply with, “I’m out!”
Musically-inclined valedictorian Brittany L. Bissonnette focused on the accomplishments of her class despite the frequent changes in principals and schedules, comparing high school to the game of “Life” and congratulating her fellow graduates on winning their game token for completing this difficult life event. Bissonnette was recognized by the school’s superintendent for her service to the school. As an accomplished singer and musician, she plans to achieve her musical education goals by attending Hofstra University in Long Island. State Rep. Mae Flexer spoke to the class. Once a young Killingly student herself, she recalled, “The words that I said to my father, ‘You used to go to the OLD Killingly High School? Wow, Dad. You’re old!’”
The Class of 1965 was the last to graduate from the old high school at 185 Broad St. It is now the Killingly Community Center. “When I look upon you today,” Flexer said to the graduating Class of 2010, “I see the future.”After diplomas were awarded and musical selections were performed, the senior class council provided closing remarks in lieu of comments from Class Advisor Susan Griffiths, who did not wish to speak at graduation.
Class President Tina Haveles bravely spoke her mind about the recent situation at the Killingly High School prom on June 11, at which several Killingly students arrived intoxicated. Said students were not, according to school policy, going to be allowed to participate at graduation – a policy controversially overruled by Principal Peter Micari after much discussion with students and their families.
Haveles said, “I would like to call everyone’s attention to why Mrs. Griffiths is not speaking right now, and why many faculty members chose not to be in attendance tonight. While I wish that tonight could be a picture-perfect ceremony, we need to realize and bring to light the less-than-perfect actions and decisions that have taken place over the last week. As a school, we will not cower away from our mistakes and decisions as if nothing happened.
“What happened at the senior prom was a foolish choice on students’ part, and hopefully our community has realized this. As policies were broken to reverse the original decision, one can only expect that students deliver on their part and have become more responsible in turn. With this decision, much of the public feels that our school is condoning underage drinking... In no way do we wish to set the wrong example for future classes and especially our younger loved ones who are a part of our audience today. I firmly believe that mistakes do not define the individual. It is how one handles their mistakes and what they do after the fact that ultimately defines the individual,” Haveles said.
Griffiths did leave her seat and join the council to accept her gifts, but did not speak at graduation. Following the ceremony, however, she did share information about the top-secret “Class of 2010 Project Graduation” festivities. Started in 1990 by Griffiths herself, after prompting from her high school-aged daughter, post-graduation celebrations at KHS are a parent-funded way to remind new grads that there are plenty of ways to have fun without alcohol being involved.
This year’s new alumni were bussed to Harbor Park in Middletown for a night of food, fun, caricatures and hypnotists, with an all-night DJ.