Shelton High Class of 2015: Now it’s time to ‘build our future’

Almost 370 Shelton High School students received their diplomas at Finn Stadium on June 19. They were cheered by many hundreds of parents, siblings, other relatives, friends and teachers. (Photos by Brad Durrell)

“We made a lasting impact on Shelton High,” said Elise C. Sullivan, senior class president, who noted graduates will “always have a home at SHS.”

Valedictorian Gina K. Ciambriello called high school “a long and arduous journey full of some of the best times of our lives.”

The weather for commencement was cooperative — sunny and a bit muggy, but not overwhelmingly so — perfect for tossing around a beach ball, a popular activity by students as they sat through the ceremony.
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Shane F. Corcoran was among the students getting their diplomas. “I was so nervous at first, but I’m happy now that I graduated,” Corcoran said. “It’s time to start life.”

Shelton High 2015 graduates will attend such universities as Yale, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Case Western Reserve, Boston College, Boston University, Miami, and Fordham.

Click below to see a list of Shelton High Class of 2015 members:

A foundation

Ciambriello, the valedictorian, asked if students are now ready to face the world outside their own community and comfort zone.

They are, she said with confidence. “Class of 2015, it’s our time,” Ciambriello said. “We now have the foundation to build our future.”

She encouraged her classmates to find their niche and pursue their passion while remaining focused. “Always remember where you came from,” she said. “Always remember where you’re going.”

Salutatorian Wesley S. Kocurek said he and his fellow students learned a lot about life during their four years at SHS — part of “their journey into adulthood.”

For instance, he said, he learned that he liked to dance.
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“I learned sometimes your best just isn’t good enough — that’s why I’m giving this speech and not the next one,” joked Kocurek, who was followed by the valedictorian.

He said they shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes as their journey continues, and to realize that everyone has an important role to play. “We all are essential,” Kocurek said.

‘Future leaders’

Charles A. O’Keefe, the class essayist, said graduates came to understand that high school was “more than a walk in the park,” and involved a lot of work and effort.

Missing the bus, failing a test and even falling down the stairs were all part of the experience. “We all lived through it,” O’Keefe said.

He said graduates should embrace the change that awaits them and chart their own course. “Don’t waste every day living someone else’s life,” he said.

Four years at SHS have “prepared us all to become the future leaders of America,” O’Keefe said.

Sullivan, the class president, said the class of 2015 went “above and beyond” while in high school, volunteering for 15,000 hours of community service.
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She recalled maturing from timid freshmen to more confident seniors, “a year full of doing things one last time.”

Sullivan, who received the Headmaster Award for her contributions to SHS, urged graduates to trust in themselves as they move beyond high school.

‘A beginning and an end’

Mayor Mark Lauretti told students graduation “signifies both a beginning and an end,” and that the learning process never stops throughout life.

Lauretti said the youth of America has continuously stepped up to conquer challenges and save the American Dream, and he’s confident members of the Class of 2015 will now do their part. “There’s no substitute for hard work,” he said.

The mayor noted 2015 will end 53 years of there always being a Lauretti at Shelton High. His niece, Maggie Fitzgerald, was graduating. “Tonight, that will come to an end,” Lauretti said.

Mark Holden, Board of Education chairman, said students have benefited from following the lead of others while growing up — from parents to teachers— and now it’s time for them to become leaders.
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“You will grow into leaders in one capacity or another,” said Holden, while also emphasizing the need to delegate and be a team player.

He urged students to set goals in life, such as what they want to be doing in 10 or 20 years, and to seek out good information. “Never overlook the possibility you could be wrong,” Holden said.

A changing world

School Supt. Freeman Burr said students will face a much different world by 2020, when many will be out of college. He said changes in technology, science, energy, medicine and transportation will create new job opportunities.

“This is your time, Class of 2015,” Burr said. “Your glory days are ahead of you.”

He complimented students on their Capstone projects, noting topics ranged from assisting at a Polish language school in Bridgeport to restoring a 1963 Chevy Nova SS.

Seniors brought “enthusiasm and pride” to this new requirement, said Burr, who will be stepping down from his position in late December.

Headmaster Beth Smith said graduates had become “fine men and women,” excelling at academics, arts, athletics and other activities.
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“You have the skills to be successful and productive,” Smith said.
And no matter where the future takes them, “there is orange and black in your blood,” she said.

'Really exciting'

Graduate Anthony Sabone is looking forward to studying finance at UConn, and hopes to someday work on the stock market. “It’s really exciting,” he said of the future.

Tori Yoon will attend Gateway Community College to study baking, preparing for a career in the culinary arts. “We’re so proud of her,” said her mother, Yon. “She made it. She was a good student and worked hard.”
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Sandra Gathers was thrilled to see granddaughter Janai Broadnax graduate. “I’m very proud,” Gathers said. “I know she’ll do well.”
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Click below to see more SHS graduation photos:

Top Ten students

The Top Ten students in the 2015 Shelton High graduating class, by academic rank, were:

1. Gina K. Ciambriello

2. Wesley S. Kocurek

3. Erik Kocur

4. Michael L. Lynders

5. Sara C. Brown

6. Austin J. Kothary

7. Carolyn K. Taylor

8. Max Liang Wang

9. Christopher D. Lipscomb

10. Jennifer H. Gulick