Enfield and Enrico Fermi grads rejoice after much public hoopla

Enfield and Enrico Fermi grads rejoice after much public hoopla

By By Jennifer Coe - Staff Writer

Two of the state’s most controversial and debated graduation ceremonies have finally come and gone. Enfield’s two high schools, Enfield High and Enrico Fermi held their graduations last week – one on an athletic field and the other in the school gymnasium – after months of grappling to and fro in the community and eventually with the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Wednesday, June 23, and Thursday, June 24, the graduates finally lined up and walked toward the stages after all the hoopla. The feelings at EHS were mixed. "I would have rather graduated at First Cathedral," said one student. Another said, "At least we’re graduating," while another added, "I really don’t care."

Forty-three percent of EHS graduates graduated with honors or high honors, and there were 32 National Honor Society members. Eighty-four of the graduates are going on to pursue higher education, while there are six planning to enter the military. Vice Principal Steve Sargowski described them as "hardworking, smart, resilient and adaptable."

The Enrico Fermi Class of 2010 was forced inside by menacing clouds. Ticket holders were allowed into the packed gym, and fans were brought in to try and keep everyone cool, but despite the heat, the focus was on the seniors. It began with the national anthem being sung by two graduating seniors, Melissa Reda and Joseph Young.

Fermi graduates were a little more forthcoming in their feelings about ending up in the gymnasium. They didn’t avoid the topic – even Principal Paul Newton mentioned it a few times in his introductory speech. Newton said that he was proud of the students when the final decision came down because they handled themselves well. "Sometimes, in spite of your efforts, we may not get what we want," said Newton.

Valedictorian Andrew Silva talked about it, as well. "We must understand we are not defeated – you can’t always get what you want, and life isn’t always fair," he said. "We didn’t just give up. We put forth the effort." He ended by saying, "God bless you and God bless America."

Enrico Fermi graduates celebrated with their families and eagerly walked towards the stage to receive their diplomas. Many students and parents had been waiting with baited breath as the court was arguing in a Bridgeport, but after Judge Janet Hall ruled that although there didn’t seem to be intention to expose graduation attendees to any particular faith, that the environment was not appropriate and both ceremonies should be moved. In the end, the judge decided not to hear the appeal in an expedited manner and has put it off for some time – i.e., not in time for this year’s graduating class. "In the end, you will remember the voyage you took to get here," said Newton.

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