NEW BRITAIN - A little rain wasn’t going to dampen a day of celebration for 530 New Britain High School students who received their diplomas Friday.
The NBHS Class of 2017 crossed the stage one by one at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Its members’ experiences have been unique, but each path walked led them to graduation.
Friends and families cheered, took pictures and celebrated as they watched years of work come to fruition.
After the national anthem, performed by Marie Celeste Gigliotti and Jasmine S. Colapietro, the graduating class received congratulations and words of wisdom from local leaders.
“For those of you who have struggled over these past four years, for those who have had to push yourselves just to make it to the next day, please accept my sincerest congratulations,” said Nicholas Mercier, president of the Board of Education. “You may leave high school carrying some scars, but you also carry with you the determination you need to succeed in life.”
Mayor Erin Stewart told the graduates to be proud of where they come from and to never forget their roots.
“The best words of advice come from Kendrick Lamar: ‘Be humble and take a seat,’ ” Stewart said, paraphrasing a line from the rapper’s “Humble.” “Be modest. Stay humble. Work hard. Let your successes shine. Remember that actions speak louder than words.”
School Superintendent Nancy Sarra said the graduates need to share their stories - of who they are, of how they’ve grown and of how they will shape their own future.
“Embrace your story, because it is who you are. You are uniquely you, and that is amazing. When you accept that, you become less serious about sharing your faults,” Sarra told the class. “May your stories enliven memories. May telling your story inspire you to lead a life that is good.”
After the NBHS Concert Choir’s rendition of The Beatles’ “In My Life,” graduates were addressed by two of their high school administrators.
“Life will throw you curveball after curveball. You will need to adjust along the way,” NBHS Principal Joseph Pinchera said. “Life will be filled with happiness one week and deep sadness the next, but you are tough and you are resilient. … Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish something. You can and you will shine.”
Michael Foran, principal of the NBHS Satellite Careers Academy, cut his speech short and gave the graduates congratulations and best wishes.
Before receiving their diplomas, the seniors were addressed by a few of their fellow graduating peers.
Valedictorian Saimun Habib thanked his fellow students, relatives and teachers for helping him through his career at NBHS. Like the mayor, Habib quoted Lamar, asking his fellow graduates to sit down, be humble, and listen to the advice from their parents and teachers.
“Listen to what they have to say. Not just about school, but about life,” Habib said. “They’ve been on this Earth longer than we have and are wiser than us. They each have a story just as we do and you’d be surprised what you can learn from them.”
Quoting Steve Jobs, Salutatorian Joseph Bechard challenged his peers to make their own dent in the universe.
“While we may fall in pursuit of our goals, it’s important to remember to try again and to not be discouraged. Failure only means you’re getting closer to success,” Bechard said. “We will continue to finish one journey with the conclusion of our high school experience, and begin our next journey into our futures.”
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at email@example.com.