By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Adorned on the cap of Bristol Central High School graduate Kimberly Quiles were small sketches of footsteps that surrounded a quote that read, “Remember success is a journey, not a place.”
On her next journey after high school, Kimberly will attend Tunxis Community College with the goal of becoming a social worker. Last Thursday she was one of 267 students from the Class of 2016 who graduated from BCHS.
Kimberly said BCHS pushed her academically, which has prepared her for the future, adding that her teachers her overcome the hardest parts.
“It’s amazing that I accomplished something,” said Kimberly when describing how she felt on graduation day.
For Kaylee O’Connor and Bethany Reek, graduation day was a bittersweet moment. The graduates said the performing arts became a part of their lives over the past four years, as they both joined band and choir.
“I’m sad and happy at the same time,” said Kaylee.
“I’m more than emotional when it comes to my teachers,” said Bethany, adding how graduation was a surreal moment. They’ve gotten me through this year…and all four years, so it’s like I’m losing my family, but… I know I’m going somewhere in life.”
After high school, Kaylee will attend the University of Hartford to study criminal justice, and hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“My guidance counselor has really been a huge support, and a lot of my teachers also,” said Kaylee.
Bethany said she will serve in the U.S. Army—something that her softball coaches have helped prepare her for.
“[My coaches] definitely prepared me, giving me dedication, commitment, and showing me what it means to be part of a family, and the Army is all about family,” said Bethany.
During the graduation ceremony, the Class of 2016 came together as a family for the last time. The senior choir not only performed The Star-Spangled Banner, but also “We’re All in This Together,” the famous song from Disney Channel’s “High School Musical.”
Senior class officers also appeared on stage to announce the class gift: a donation to the Maroon and White Fund in honor of a student or staff member who has made a positive impact at BCHS, and a donation for the installation of an awning over the school’s front entrance.
Graduate Erin Shapland read aloud her poem, “Carnation,” while Olivia Mason served as essayist, reading aloud her speech, “Connecting Flight.”
“You are well-prepared,” BCHS Prinicipal Peter Wininger told the graduates. “We believe in all of you—go out there and change the world.”
“Your school is so much more than the grades you earned,” Bristol Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ellen Solek told the graduates. “The real meaning of a great school is right here tonight…it’s the families, your loved ones. They are the glue that you’ll remember when you go on from here.”
The theme of this year’s graduation was “Dream Big and Dare to Fail.”
Mayor Ken Cockayne advised graduates to keep their goals in the forefront of their minds everyday, and to make decisions that will lead to those goals.
“Success is not an accident—it is a choice,” said Cockayne, who also recognized teachers, coaches and family members. “Are the habits you have today on par with the dreams you have for tomorrow?”
For salutatorian Gaggan Singh, her goal as a freshman was to get good grades and enter college for free, but that all changed when she delved into community service while working two jobs and playing sports.
In her speech, Gaggan summed up high school like a lab report. Although she didn’t enter college for free as she hypothesized, Gaggan, who plans to become a doctor, accomplished not only good grades, but also made more friends.
“Everyone’s hypothesis for high school can be very different,” said Gaggan, adding that her mom has always been her motivation. “My high school hypothesis wasn’t entirely valid.”
“We set goals that may or may not have been reached,” said Valedictorian Olivia Apergis during her speech.
As a freshman, said Olivia, fitting in was something she wanted the most, but over time, she stopped comparing herself to others.
“Being unique is what makes you memorable,” Olivia told her class.
Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com
PHOTOS by TAMMI NAUDUS