BEACON FALLS — Amid talk of monkeys, bananas, failing preschool, Taco Bell, hide and seek, fruit salad, foot-long hot dogs, and having 16 boyfriends in a single school year, a greater point was not lost at Woodland Regional High School on Thursday night.
Not even the rain could put a damper on the graduation of the Class of 2011.
The eighth graduating class in school history was the first to hold its commencement ceremonies in the gymnasium due to storms that plagued the area all week.
Class President Rachael Conti alluded to the rain as just another bit of poor fortune dealt to her class, but as always, the graduates made the best of the situation.
“We conquered the obstacles,” Conti said. “This is what enabled our class to accomplish so much.”
Salutatorian Jessica Patrizi summed up her feelings without showing off a superfluous vocabulary.
“There is one word that comes to mind when I think of my time at Woodland—family,” Patrizi said, referring to advisory, friends, sports, and teachers, the last of which she called “the bond that glues us together.”
Valedictorian Vinay Dinesh urged his classmates to be conscious of their decisions and take on challenges.
“I believe we are the products of our own decisions,” Dinesh said. “If we choose the road not yet traveled, we will leave our own footprints on this world.”
Region 16 Superintendent of Schools James Agostine echoed Dinesh’s sentiment and offered advice when the road becomes difficult.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” Agostine said. “If you don’t succeed again, try a different approach.”
Woodland Principal Arnold Frank reminded the audience of the “Woodland Way,” the basic beliefs that guide the school.
“We’re honest, respectful, and involved in the community,” Frank said. “You have exemplified the qualities I just mentioned.”
Beacon Falls First Selectman Susan Cable recognized the Woodland Way, especially the students’ involvement in both Beacon Falls and Prospect.
“I have been amazed by the community service they have given Prospect and Beacon Falls,” Cable said.
Prospect Mayor Bob Chatfield offered his trademarked, simple praise: “Congratulations!”
Class of 2011 officers Romina Halim, Sean Eustace, and Sara Hughes presented the class gift, a display case for the new Woodland Hall of Fame that will be mounted in the main foyer of the school.
Frank was proud to celebrate the school’s 10th anniversary all year, culminating in this graduation.
“It’s hard for me to believe we’ve been here for 10 years,” Frank said. “It’s even harder to believe what we have accomplished in 10 years.”
Frank noted the school’s outstanding reputation for academics, athletics, and extracurriculars, as well as overwhelmingly positive feedback from alumni, and a high rate of students going to college and the military.
At the end of the ceremony, Frank recognized faculty members Harry Gambardella, Rosemary Petronis, and Doreen Metzler, who are retiring at the end of this school year.