By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Despite the drops of rainfall that fell from the sky before their graduation ceremony began last Wednesday, Bristol Eastern High School seniors “pushed through” to share that final moment together on the varsity baseball field.
Pushing through together was among many lessons that the Class of 2017 learned from their high school experience.
“No matter what you’re going through, you can always get help,” said Sondra Keltner, who will study chemical engineering at Arizona State University this fall. “You’re not alone.”
“If you don’t ask for help, you’re going to be left behind,” said Israel Ortiz, who will study criminal justice at Tunxis Community College.
“Never stop trying,” added Caleb Pagan, who will study theology and business at Belmont University.
Whether they attended Bristol Eastern all four years or transferred there, the graduates recognized teachers who helped prepare them for success.
Jaime Mitchell said the support she received from teachers in her AP classes helped prepare her for Salve Regina University, where she will study nursing this fall.
“I can’t wait for college, and I’m definitely ready for the next step,” said Mitchell.
“There were quite a few teachers who helped me a lot when I transferred,” said Natalie Vasquez, who also plans to pursue a career in nursing.
Just moments before the graduation ceremony took off, the sun pushed through the clouds that lingered over the baseball field where dozens of families and friends gathered to cheer on over 300 graduates.
“We’re supposed to fall four times and get up five. That’s what’s really being tested,” said graduate Ryan Palzere, addressing his class. “The real test is whether or not we have the perseverance and strength to get back up even after life is doing its absolute best at knocking us down.”
Bristol Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ellen Solek also echoed this lesson when she addressed the graduates about what it means to meet adversities and failures “head on.”
“We must take a long look in the mirror, deep inside ourselves at the very core of who we are,” said Solek. “We must be willing to grow, even though it may hurt for a little while.”
Valedictorian Alexandra Allen grew through her role as a student representative for the Board of Education this past school year.
For Allen, this leadership role gave her an opportunity to address a concern she had as a freshman: the midterm schedule. After proposing a half-day schedule for midterms, school officials unanimously approved the change, which will now take effect this upcoming school year.
“The only way to make a change right now is by using your voice,” said Allen, urging her peers to speak up in order to make a change. “No one will be there to force you to take action—only you can make the choice to stand up for what you believe in.”
The midterm schedule was not the only change for Bristol Eastern. In October, the high school welcomed Rachel’s Challenge— a non-profit organization based on the life of Rachel Joy Scott—the first victim of the 1999 Columbine shooting. Like Rachel, Bristol Eastern students pledged to start a chain reaction of kindness throughout the year, such as raising over $5,000 through the Friends of Rachel Club to support a Bristol elementary school student who is fighting against cancer.
“Rachel Scott said that, ‘tomorrow is not a promise, but a chance,’” said Bristol Eastern High School Principal Carly Fortin in her address to the graduates. “I know that all of you will use that chance to do big things in your future—not only for yourselves, but for each other.”
“You’re about to embark on a life that will be full of opportunities—they will be all around you,” Mayor Ken Cockayne told the graduates.
The Bristol Eastern High School Class of 2017:
Fatima Zehra Abbas, Muhammad Ridhwan Abdulsalam, Alexander Antonio Acevedo, Casey Ann Adams, Christina Marie Adkins, Christian Lee Agosto, Feryal Al Hamadani, Alexandra Louise Allen, Courtney Elise Anderson, Donavan Curtis Anderson, Riley Gladys Anderson, Allison Nicole Anulewicz, Sean Austin Arasimowicz, Morgan Rose Armour, Derek Paul Armstrong, Emily Rose Aston, Christopher George Baehr, Rachel Ann Bairrington, Sarah Kay Barkley, Natalie Jean Barnes, Andrew Simon Beale, Elizabeth Anna Beaulieu, John Joseph Beaulieu, Ethan Joseph Begin, Nathan Andrew Begin, Samantha Rose Bender, Brianna Elizabeth Beyers, Justin Matthew Blais, Justin Patrick Blake, Christopher James Bleau, Tyler Alan Bourgoin, Kyle Michael Boutote, Christine Danielle Boyce, Alexis Marie Brown, Kayla Elizabeth Brown, Melina Teresa Brown, Savanna Rose Brunet, Sarah Mae Buchas, Tia Marie Burey, Camryn Sarah Burke, Gabriella Taylor Cadogan, Shane Randall Caggiano, Keymari Camacho, Andrew Dakota Carlson, Jonathan Robert Carlson, Amanda Marie Caron, Heather Jean Carroll, Adam Edward Carter, Federica Castaldi, Alivia Elyse Castle, Joseph Alexander Checovetes, Matthew Jonathan Checovetes, Aimee Allison Choquette, Ashley Mary Clark, Jonathan Clark, Kacey Alistair Clementson, McKenna Kayla Cloutier, Tamhja Elizabeth Coe, Kyuzylia Martine Colon, Ayanna Marie Correa, Gian Domenico Costantiello, Emerald Tatum Coviello, De’Shawn Arnold Cox, Zachary Charles Crameri, Kellie Corinne Crandle, Jose Crespo, Mallory Antoinette Crisafulli, Larry Julian Crossman, Kiana Nicole Cruz, Aubrey Alexis Cyr, Noah Austin Cyr, Janey Marie Czertak,
Gavin Hale Daddario, Christian Michael Dailey, Nicole Patricia D’Amato, Dylan Joshua Davenport, Zoey Monique Davis, Harrison Werner Dayton, Corey Robert Deeves, Destiny Lenee DeMontigny, Frank Salvator DeNoto, Jake Robert Desmarais, Katlynn Lee DiYulio, Jacob Arnold Dossias, Benjamin Dowd, Nevan Thomas Doyle, John Wyatt Doyon, Paul John Dziala, Emily Dailanee Dziubanski, Samantha Courtney Eilerman, Matthew Joseph Faggaini, Zachary Richard Ferland, Rebecca Lynn Figueiredo, Emily Louise Fillmore, Logan James Flis, Francis Timothy Flood, Vanessa Marie Floyd, Connor Alexzander Folsom, Tychelle Foreman, Clifford Allen Fort, Chandler Dante Foss, Alexus Denise Fusco, Gary Roger Gagnier, Adrian Noel Garcia, Alexandra Danielle Garcia, Lissy Marie Garcia, Adrian Zbigniew Gasior, Karisma Lyann Gilhooly, Evan Michael Gionta, Thomas Quinn Gonzales, Hannah Rose Goodwin, Michael Thomas Grabowski, Allison Joan Graham, Caitlin Dorothy Gravelle, Nicholas Bordes Grokoski, Elizabeth Grace Guilmette, Brenden Ray Hall, Sadarius T. Harris, Kahari Monet Hawley, Matthew David Hebert, Ivan Hernandez, Nicholas Patrick Hill, Nicholas Russell Holcomb, Jacob Andrew Hooks, Roland Horvath, Jamarcus Bernard Hunt, Felicity Brooke Irizarry, Damaris Marie Jackson, Cailee Jayne Jacquette, Amy Elizabeth Jakiel, Brandon Edward Janelle, Makenzie M. Jankowski, Roderick James Jenkins, Britney Shion Mahelia Johnson,
John Levon Kachidurian, Elizabeth Marie Kalfayan, Emma Breanne Kelly, Sondra Leigh Keltner, Jessica Marie Kenney, Vaziuddin Yusuf Khan, Elijah Israel King, Autumn Lee Klemonski, Igor Pawel Korpanty, Nicholas Taylor Kurandy, Cody Edward Kurpaska, Jacob Kustra, Jeremie Eric LaChance, Donato Jax Laferriere, Katelyn Rose LaFleur, Lex Jacob Lagace, Jackson Thomas LaMar, Adiya Marie LaMarre, Raina Anne Lambert, Hannah Rose Langlais, Paul Anton Medina Lapaan, Logan Brian Laprise, Miya LeAnn Laprise, Alyssa Paige Latko, Christopher Michael LeBeau, Jillian Rose LeBeau, Mikayla Xiao Bing Lewandoski, Jacob Thomas Lincoln, Rose Lynne Lombardi, Alexis Suzanne Longo, Anthony Edward Lozier, Francess Capili Luna, Kolby Joseph Lynch, Michael Daniel Maccio, Ian Alexander Mace, Jillian Rose Maghini, Connor Robert Maguire, Krista Leanne Malenfant, Mary Kathryn Manning, Zea Jadyn Manning, Zachary Michael Marquis, Issabella Marie Marrotti, Mikayla Ann Martin, Michael John Massarelli, Lexie Nicole Mastroianni, “David Charles Maxfield, II”, Jessica Nicole McCarron, Owen Paul McCarty, Taylor Tajmone McKay, Matthew Raymond McLaughlin, Abigail L. McMenemy, Jared Michael McQuarrie, Tate Ryley Mendez, “Emilio Mercado, Jr.”, Amy Alicia Merriam, Alexander Taylor Michaud, Cole Joseph Michaud, Nel Rose Mielcarek, Ashley Kathleen Mitchell, Jaime Camille Mitchell, Natasha Esther Molina, Tejal Leigh Monteiro, Cord D. Moore, Lukas Franciszek Morin, Myranda Marie Morneault, Jeremy David Mosieur, Ryan Christopher Muller, Brooklynne Rayann Murdock, Brett Logan Myers, Mone’t Leeona Rose Naha, Emily Nelson, Samantha Lee Newell, Rubi Adriana Nieves, Mikaela Marie Norton, Mason Giovanni Nozzolillo, Sabrina Laci Oakes, Ethan Richard O’Day, Georgia Ann Ogonowski, Noah Donati Ogonowski, Riley Anne O’Hanlon, Alexandra Opoka, Israel Ortiz , Edgar Ortiz-Hernandez, Alexander Antonio Osorio, Jarid Michael Ouellette, Caleb Elias Pagan, Devin Malik Pagan, Ryan Thomas Palzere, Rochelle Joyce Pare, Zachery Ryan Parker, Julia Ann Pearlingi, Victoria Lynn Pearlingi, Ethan Tyler Pearson, Johnathan Nathaniel Peddlar, Alexis Marie Pelletier, Kylie Rachel Pelletier, Lorenzo Edgar Perez, Leah Marie Perri, Jacob Larsen Perry, Gillian Rose Piazza, Chadwick Allan Pitcher, Devon Andrew Plourde, Jared Dominick Procko, Tiffany Amber Quirion, Ashley Taylor Redman, Angel Jossue Reyes-Colon, Gabriela Bailey Reymont, Jason Ruben Rivera, Mike Jesus Rivera, Sheyna Jaleez Rivera, Emily Kate Rivoira, Savannah Renee Robinson, Jacob Thomas Rodjenski, Felipe Rodriguez, Alexander T. Rollins, Lauren Taylor Rooney, Jenna Michele Roy, Subro Simon Roy, Sarah Ashley Ruest, Evan Robert Ruszczyk, Morgan Irene Ruszczyk,
Jennifer Sabatis, Stephanie Diane Sacharko, Diego Alexander Sanmartin, Allison Jasmine Santiago, Erik Gabriel Santiago, Javier Antonio Santos, Mason Tai Santos, Paul Decker Saraceno, Zachary David Sassu, Shamili Satheesan, Shawn Michael Savoir, “Krister Clement Schonrock, Jr.”, Jasmine Dorianne Scott, Paulina Serafin, Kayla Brooke Sledzik, Tyler Michael Smith, Donovan Bryant Soucy, Emily Jane Stadnicki, Joelle Marjorie Stairs, Gavin Scott Sullivan, Veronica Ann Sullivan, Alexis Nichole Sylverne, Neeley Jordan Tedd, Matthew Thornton, Ethan Michael Tillbrook, Faith Amor Tirado, Jenalle Angelie Tobon, Jacqualynn Nicole Trevarthen, Justin Roland Trottier, Connor James Trowbridge, Marina Rose Truiolo, Natalie Janae Vasquez, Nicolas Gordon Vega, Antonela Velaj, Jonahibi Ventura, Jacob Robert Violette, Justin James Walden, Lyndsay Lee Watt, Desiree Nicole Wiley, Anna Louise Paige Wilson, Donovan Michael Wilson, Cody James Witkowski, Diana Izabela Wnuk, Ivy Marie Wnuk, Alessandra Antualet Wong, Deja Lynn Woods, Nicholas William Woods, Mackenzie Margaret Worley, Emily Paige Worthen, Joseph Richard York.
PHOTOS by JOE CZAJKOWSKI