Griswold High School sends off 170 ‘exceptional’ graduates

Griswold High School sends off 170 ‘exceptional’ graduates

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer

Facing a sea of seniors decked out in green and white, Griswold High School Principal Mark Frizzell recalled some of the classes from the past. Frizzell’s own son graduated in 2009. 2008 was the class of Lance Cpl. Tyler Griffin, of Voluntown. “He was killed in Afghanistan,” said Frizzell, fighting back tears. (Marine Lance Cpl. Tyler Griffin was one month into his deployment when he was killed while fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan earlier this year.)

When he thinks of the Class of 2010, said Frizzell, “I will remember a group of students that were a great group of young adults.” Frizzell referred to one student in particular, who exemplified “respect, kindness, determination, humor, unconditional love...and taught us the true meaning of friendship.” And through their interactions with this student, his classmates demonstrated a “climate of support for an individual with exceptionalities.”

Joseph “J.J.” Castagnaro beamed as he mounted the dais to accept Frizzell’s embrace. Castagnaro, who will continue his special education classes after graduation, has been warmly accepted by his fellow classmates. “A group of us work with him at Special Olympics,” said salutatorian Elizabeth Bartlett. “He’s really awesome. He’s always positive, always smiling.”

Elizabeth Dorff, the chair of the Griswold Board of Education, addressed a crowd that included her daughter, Katina Dorff. She quoted Preston farmer Jerry Grabarek, who turned a portion of his farm into a successful, locally well-known corn maze. “Respect the corn,” said Dorff. “To the farmer, corn is the future, the difference between success and failure in the coming year.” Dorff likened the students themselves to the corn, having been nurtured and cared for by the entire community. But she reminded them that they must also be cognizant of their responsibilities. “As you go out into the world to pursue your dreams, I urge you to respect the corn,” said Dorff. Making selfish decisions could lead to devastating consequences, she said, reminding them that they are the new stewards of the planet. “Congratulations and best of luck.”

Griswold High School gave out 170 diplomas at a ceremony held June 21. Valedictorian Rebecca Sajkowicz chose not to attend the ceremony. The salutatorian for the Class of 2010 was Elizabeth Bartlett.

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