By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Pictures of senior year memories were scattered on the blue cap of Amber Trahan as she gathered with her friends and classmates outside Bristol Eastern High School, waiting to line up for the 2014 senior class graduation.
From sports banquets to prom to other school events and activities, Amber said she had so many memories with her friends and family it was hard to choose which pictures to include on her graduation cap. Out of the 15 to 20 pictures she glued onto her cap, Amber said her favorite is the one of her best friend, whom she has known for years.
“It’s the first time in 14 years we’re going to be separated,” said Amber, who will attend Southern New Hampshire University this fall while her best friend attends the University of Connecticut.
For Amber, missing her friends and family is something she is certain about after spending four years with them at Bristol Eastern. With plans to pursue a major in environmental science, Amber said she also will remember her time spent as a student athlete playing soccer and indoor track. Despite the memories she will always hold onto, Amber said she looks forward to new experiences in college.
Although he also looks forward to the next step in his life, senior Syed Abbas also said he will miss the memories he made at Bristol Eastern.
“I will miss the safety net,” added senior Syed, who decorated his cap with a picture of the front cover of Kanye West’s album titled “Graduation.” “It was a really small community—going somewhere new is always scary.”
Planning to attend Pace University with a major in marketing and finance, Syed said he will always remember the people he met in high school and the friends he made while missing his mother’s cooking at the same time. As a high school student, Syed played tennis, served on the Yearbook Committee, and volunteered to make music mixes for various school functions, such as the prom fashion show.
Senior Kayla Theriault said the teachers at Bristol Eastern are something about her high school years she will never forget. Planning to attend Curry College in Milton, Mass. with a major in elementary education, Kayla said she became close to some teachers.
“They were very welcoming and friendly—they helped us guide us through our four years,” said Kayla, adding how prom and homecoming are also on her top list for high school memories.
“They helped me a lot in certain classes,” added senior Sylvia Garcia, who will attend Tunxis in the fall.
During the commencement ceremony held last Thursday, rays of sun beamed on the high school seniors as each one received their diploma on the school’s outdoors field. As the graduates received their diplomas, they placed a colored beaded necklace on Bristol Eastern High School Principal Carly Fortin to show a token of their gratitude.
While addressing the senior class, Fortin recalled how as a former student of Bristol Eastern High School herself, she never imagined becoming the principal one day. Fortin began her administrative career as the assistant principal of Bristol Eastern when the seniors were freshmen at the time.
“Today is only the beginning of your journey,” said Fortin. “This moment is so bright because I’ve seen how far many of you have come.”
During the ceremony, Senior Class President Jenna Rodjenski, who was one of the speakers at the ceremony, thanked the support of teachers, administrators, family members and friends on behalf of her classmates. Before the seniors received their diplomas, Jenna presented the class gift—a giant welcome mat, which will be placed outside the front office with the school lantern logo, along with phrase “Class of 2014.” The senior class also will donate $500 to the Bristol Eastern athletic field and lights fund, and $500 to the incoming freshmen class to help them begin their fundraising efforts. The remaining funds will benefit the B.E. Closet, an organization the senior class hopes will continue at the high school.
“Over the past four years, each and every one of us has faced challenges and overcome barriers which have shaped us into the people we are right now,” said Jenna.
“We started from the bottom, and how we’re here,” added Senior Rafi Hamzy, another speaker at graduation. “These years are the most memorable years of our lives thus far.” “Whether you had a good experience here or a bad one, we’ll always remember this place.”
As the class valedictorian, Caroline Boyce noted how she has known some of her classmates since kindergarten, recognizing all of the qualities that make Bristol Eastern students unique. From writers to athletes to musicians and dancers, Boyce recognized the intelligence, creativity, talent, and passion of her fellow classmates, expressing her pride for the accomplishments of many student groups, such as the math team, marching band, and football team.
“We did it all because we wanted to be great at something—we wanted to achieve these things,” said Caroline, who will attend Harvard University this fall. “We may encounter adversity in our future endeavors, but we always have the option, especially with our level of talent, to find our way far above these obstacles instead of merely accepting them.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included Board of Education Vice Chairman Genard Dolan, State Representative Frank Nicastro, and Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Kalt Moreau. City Councilor Henri Martin also addressed the seniors, reminding them to not let fear get in the way of making a decision.
“Use fear as an instinct for a call to action, a call to make a decision,” said Martin.