NAUGATUCK — For longtime friends Abby Karbowicz and Bianca Rigoli, the decision for both to attend Southern Connecticut State University was a coincidence.
“It kind of happened that way,” Karbowicz said.
Karbowicz, who plans to study early childhood education, said she was attracted to Southern’s education program, while Rigoli plans to study social work.
The two Naugatuck High School seniors and future roommates celebrated their decision Friday during National Decision Day.
They said they’re excited to graduate.
“I’ve got a countdown,” Rigoli said. “It didn’t feel like four years.”
While high school seniors signing on with Division 1 college sports teams have long marked the occasion with formal ceremonies, the post-high-school decisions of other students have not received such recognition, said Debbie Rutigliano, director of the counseling department.
“Let’s make it a big deal for every kid, whether they’re an athlete or not,” Rutigliano said.
This is the first year Naugatuck High School took part in the Reach Higher Initiative spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage young people to complete their education, she said.
Seniors sporting their new college logos filed through the main lobby Friday to sign stars naming the college or other post-high-school destination they plan to pursued. They took photos together to post on Twitter and Instagram with hashtags like #ReachHigher and #socollege.
May 1 is the day most colleges require a deposit to officially become a student, Rutigliano said.
It’s important for seniors to make a decision, whether to attend a four-year college, technical school, or the military, she said.
Most of Naugatuck’s seniors are staying in the tri-state area, with many attending the University of Connecticut and other state schools, Rutigliano said.
Valedictorian Dan Schumcher said he decided to attend Columbia University because of its strong academic curriculum and flexibility as well as the opportunities afforded him by living in New York City.
Schumcher plans to run cross country and track for Columbia, but he doesn’t need to decide what to study until the end of sophomore year.
He said he got into Columbia through a lot of hard work and support from teachers and classmates.
“The group of people we have at the top of our class, we really push each other. I don’t think we could be as good as we are without each other,” Schumcher said.
He said he was happy the school was celebrating college decisions.
“It’s such a long process. We know where we’re going and we’re all happy right now. It’s definitely, definitely a good day.”
The decision to attend Williams College was a difficult one, senior Danielle D’Oliveira said. She said she was originally going to apply to less rigorous schools, but her Spanish teacher, Jose Sendra, convinced her to reach for a higher standard.
“It’s big and I think that sometimes we don’t realize how big it is,” D’Oliveira said of the decision.