NAUGATUCK — As Raymond Lucarelli looked over his fellow Naugatuck High School graduates from the Class of 2019 seated on the football field last Tuesday evening, the salutatorian asked his classmates to take a moment to think about their first day of high school.
“The turning in your stomach. The fear when you realized how much larger the upperclassmen were. The intimidation you felt when you experienced how huge the school truly was,” he said.
Over the four years that followed that first day in 2015, Lucarelli said every obstacle and hurdle the graduates faced and overcame reshaped them into who they are now.
“Not a single one of us is the same person that we were that first day,” he said.
The obstacles and struggles along the way weren’t able to stop the Class of 2019, Class Essayist Fethullah Yilmaz said.
“It’s important to look back at the past sometimes and realize how far we actually made it,” he said.
It’s amazing, he said, to see what the graduates have achieved and how they’ve changed.
“I’ve gone from a kid that barely spoke a few sentences of English to giving a speech at graduation,” Yilmaz said.
The faces in the sea of garnet were varied, graduate Abigail Patterson said, some proud, some fearful and others simply looking to get the ceremony over with. All of them encountered extensive circumstances along the way, she said.
“What resonates within my heart the most is that each and every single face has their own story, background and prelude to this moment,” Patterson said.
The past won’t determine the outcomes of their lives, Patterson said, as each graduate is the author that will pen the chapters to come.
Valedictorian Brianna Soubannarath said the class will continue to face hard times moving forward. She left her fellow graduates with some words to live by that she learned about herself over the past four years.
“Find happiness in little things,” she said.
Soubannarath said happiness is treated as if it’s a tangible object that is obtainable someday. In reality, she said, that’s now how happiness works for most people. Happiness is a momentary, fleeting feeling, and that’s OK, she said.
Soubannarath said so much in life is temporary and she urged her classmates to appreciate the little things and cherish those fleeting moments.
“I know a lot of us are excited to move on to college, but always remember these past four years are once in lifetime and never forget where you came from,” she said.