Redcoats rejoice: Berlin High graduates its Class of 2018

Published on Sunday, 24 June 2018 21:39
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEW BRITAIN - Wearing a cap with the words “That’s all folks!” across it, Jackie Cooper talked with Natalie Couceiro about the milestone they were about to call their own.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Couceiro, one of 207 members of Berlin High School’s Class of 2018. “It’s crazy how fast it came along.”

The class walked across the stage in the Welte Auditorium at Central Connecticut State University Sunday, in front of a packed audience of family and friends.

“We are here to honor your accomplishments over the last 12 years,” interim Principal Barbara Ventura said in her welcome. “I have spent the last several years with you and all I can say is: Well done.”

Class President Brianna Lennehan then addressed her classmates, beginning with a moment of silence for Tyler Cop, who died in a pellet gun incident on July 12, 2015.

“Tyler, I know that you’ve been with us the whole time, watching over us throughout high school, and guiding our every decision,” Lennehan said. “You hold a special place in both my heart and this class’s heart. Today is not only our day but your day as well.”

She went on to recall fond memories of the last four years, using the school’s competitive color wars during pep rally weeks as a metaphor for life’s trials and tribulations.

“You will have to take last place in order to learn how to make it to first. You will have to make mistakes in order to learn how to fix them. The attitude you have after a loss will determine your success in your next attempt at a win. The next years of our lives will come with losses, failures, embarrassing moments, and hardships. Learn from them. Win from them.”

Salutatorian Sara Bengiovanni talked about the school’s motto, “Where a voice can be heard.”

“Today I was given the opportunity to share my voice with all of you, and I want to thank all of you for your time, and I am incredibly excited that my classmates and I are about to share our voices with the entire world,” she said.

Valedictorian Ashley Bryant announced that she had chosen the title for her graduation speech by selecting a random phrase from a page in the dictionary. It was “grand finale.”

“Not only is it fitting to the fact that we’re all graduating high school, but a grand finale is the end to something great,” Bryant said. “So for all of our sleepless nights dedicated to 17-page AP lit journals, to the unsolvable online AP chemistry problems, to the seemingly endless math sets, this is our final celebration. We did it. This is our grand finale.”

She told students to thank their parents for their support through it all.

School Superintendent Brian Benigni also emphasized how critical families have been on the road to graduation day.

“Graduates, today is your day to celebrate success,” he said. “Family and friends, today is also your day because you have contributed much to the graduates’ success.”

Benigni went on to urge the class to find meaning the small moments of their lives, not in statistical items like grade-point average or salary.

He ended with a quote from rap artist Eminem, “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Sunday, 24 June 2018 21:39. Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2018 21:41.