By JAYMIE BIANCA
For its 2019 commencement, Bristol Central High School centered its theme around kindness, titling their event: “In a world where you can be anything; be kind.” This theme manifested itself throughout several of the evening’s festivities.
Kindness was truly evident even before the graduation officially began. Laughs reverberated throughout the school as students posed for photos and compared their decorative graduation caps. Some were abundant with inspirational quotes, while others were surrounded with bright flowers.
When asked about the wealth of emotions students felt that evening, many were upset to see this phase of their lives come to an end, but were also ecstatic to see the possibilities that lie ahead.
Nathan Rosa, a member of the football and basketball teams at Bristol Central said he was “excited for the next chapter.” When asked about adjusting to college life, Rosa thought that “it may take a year or so, but I know I will be okay.” Rosa will be attending Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. to study accounting.
Belle Pons described similar sentiments when asked about graduation. She said “it doesn’t feel real” and that she will truly miss “the people and friends I have made here.” However, Belle said she is “excited” for college, especially since she will be on the dance team at the University of Connecticut, where she will additionally pursue a degree in accounting.
The sense of community and excitement continued as Bristol Central principal Pete Wininger emphasized the importance of kindness in a variety of ways, including “small gestures” and ensuring that while these gestures may not change the world in one day, it can create a lasting impact in the future.
Superintendent of Bristol Public Schools Susan Moreau, echoed similar ideas as she recited her last graduation address before retirement. She introduced various keys for a successful future, including the embodiment of qualities such as kindness, loyalty, respect, and trustworthiness. She encouraged students to “be an active learner” and “grow skills and knowledge” even after their educational career. She hoped that she left a legacy that involved these aforementioned qualities and advice.
Additional words of wisdom and intellectual thoughts filled the gymnasium during the student addresses. During Stephen Pittman’s salutatory speech entitled “Circumstance,” he discussed how, despite certain obligations during four years of schooling, it is those circumstances that can allow the full capacity of humans to “seek and understand ways of the world.” Pittman’s speech evoked laughs for its humor and thunderous claps for its clever words and insights.
The valedictory speech from Yan Zhu reiterated to students that education must never be taken for granted. Zhu recollected her parents past of living during a time of political unrest in China, where public education was not free and they were not able to receive a formal education. Therefore, Zhu advised her fellow classmates to utilize the tools they possess to succeed. She described how “the past is in the past, but the future is in our control. Use your freedom to excel.” Her words sparked cheers from students and families in the gymnasium.
As the newly graduated Class of 2019 exited the gymnasium with a combination of smiles and tears, there was a visible emergence of kindness and community within the students, families, and faculty of Bristol Central.
Julia Nelson, who recently starred as Elle Woods in Bristol Central’s production of “Legally Blonde” smiled as she said that she was “ready to move on” but “it was still sad” to leave behind her high school memories. She will be studying biology at the University of Virginia.
Marissa Pecorelli also said that she was excited to explore her future possibilities. She explained that she was “not too nervous” and was most looking forward to experiencing life in Manhattan since she will be pursuing film at Fordham University.
Councilman Peter Kelley’s advice to students emphasized the importance of relationships, explaining that “no matter where you land, be a mentor, cheerleader, and friend. Life is all about relationships.”