Students enter next phase of their journey Finn Stadium\u2019s football field was lit up with the bright smiles of the 396 students that\u00a0graduated in the Shelton High School class of 2016. The sunny evening was brought to life with decorated hats and inflatable beach balls tossed among the graduating class in celebration. "We've worked hard to make it to this point. Let's be proud of ourselves and congratulate one\u00a0another," said James Hunter\u00a0in his Valedictorian speech. "It's an important milestone in our\u00a0journey, a journey made up of many different experiences and events that have been pieced\u00a0together to get us where we are today." Shelton High School Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith congratulated the students on their\u00a0accomplishments from the school year and their steps taken after graduation: attending a\u00a0university, joining the military or entering the workforce. "I'm extremely excited but I'm also heartbroken to be that the kids that I have went to school\u00a0with for more than 13 years will be leaving each other," said Senior Class President Henry Jiang. Smith read the universities that some of the graduating students would be attending: Yale, Boston, Wesleyan, Notre Dame and several more. Senior class essayist Allison Brown gave a speech on her and student's experiences at Shelton High and hopes for their future. "The lessons we have learned inside these walls for the past four years cannot be capsulized\u00a0into numbers on a board," said Brown. "Because whether we like it or not a part of SHS will be\u00a0traveling with us." Welcoming addresses were also given by Mayor Mark Lauretti, Shelton Board of Education Chairman Mark Holden and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chris Clouet. "Believe it or not class you are now being called upon to make your contribution more now\u00a0than ever, the time is now," said Lauretti. "And this will require both your involvement and your\u00a0commitment for this very special place called America." 10 students were also awarded special academic recognition after the address by Mrs. Kathleen\u00a0Riddle. "I'm thrilled, this what we were working towards for four years," said Keyur Shah who is the class's salutatorian and one of the recipients for academic recognition. Among the 396 students whose names were read before crossing the stage, respect was paid to the students who tragically lost their lives over the past few years. Both Eddy Conklin and Kristjan Ndoj's names were read in alphabetical order among the other graduates during the ceremony. A white rose was placed in both of their seats. As the last name was called Jiang was signaled to lead the class of 2016 into the next phase of their lives by moving their tassels from left to right and tossing their caps high in the air. "The future looks bright and the past is behind us, but take this moment to reflect upon what\u00a0we have become," Jiang said. "Because life is short and today is the first day of the rest of our\u00a0lives."