SHELTON, Conn. — The bright blue sky and warm sun made for a perfect evening for the 398 graduating seniors at Shelton High School, as they marched onto Finn Stadium football field to celebrate commencement on Friday.
The students filed in with the boys in black and the girls in white. With much enthusiasm and excitement, they tossed around several beach balls during the graduation proceedings.
Opening up the graduation ceremony was Senior Class President Henry Chenxi Jiang. He was followed by the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner by the senior class members of the choir: Patricia Jones, Heather Keith, Rachel Merriam, Jordan Oakes, Lauren Oakes, and Colleen Toole.
Keyur Ketan Shah gave the salutatorian address, explaining what it's like to try to fit in.
“I also know what it’s like wanting to fit in. but I’m not James and neither are you," he said. "Nobody else is you. You have some advantages and some achievements that nobody else has. Life lessons are invaluable.”
He told how he wasn't accepted into the college of his dreams, and how he ate tubs of ice cream after a rejection. But he came to value what he has.
“Don’t let anyone ever convince that being you is a bad thing. Class of 2016, we made it,” he shouted proudly.
Senior Class Treasurer Nicolette Ashley Niedzwiecki, welcomed the valedictorian, James Robert Hunter.
“This journey has been one made up of many experiences pieced together to get us where we are. Pieces of my journey are being made together now,” Hunter said.
He explained that his mother makes a special item for each member of the family upon graduating and heading to college. His gift will be a quilt made of his favorite T-shirts.
“High school has been a growth and journey for us. It is the experiences that matters and teaches who we are. Continue to piece together the quit of your life,” Hunter added for inspiration.
Mayor Mark A. Lauretti reminded the crowd that he has celebrated Shelton High School graduations for over 25 years.
“I would like to take the time to remember the passing of two of your classmates. They will never be forgotten. Live your lives fully and carry on their spirit within you,” Lauretti said in memory of the two students.
Edmund “Eddy” Conklin, 17, was a star basketball player at Shelton High and was only one course shy of his graduation requirements. He died early Feb. 28 in a rollover crash on Bridgeport Avenue. The crash remains under police investigation.
Kristjan Ndoj, another member of the Class of 2016, was fatally shot in March 2014. No arrests have been made in his death.
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