The decision to hold the high school graduation on the beautiful Branford Green last Friday was held off until late morning due to the threat of thunder showers. As luck would have it, the weather cooperated for the 250 graduates of Branford High School.
It turned out to be a perfect evening and a large crowd of families and friends filled the green to witness the event, the awarding of their diplomas to the class of 2017. Principal Lee Panagoulis (pictured) led the march in to the stage.
The procession of students, faculty and staff, along with Board of Education members and Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez entered the Green from Main Street. Here is Class of 2017 Faculty Adviser Salvatore Zarra shaking hands with the students who formed a passage for the faculty.
They walked to the podium as the traditional “Theme from Pomp and Circumstance, March #3” was played by the Branford High School Band. Next came the National Anthem.
Members of the class of 2017 sit in front of the large audience on the green.
School Principal Lee Panagoulias,Jr. welcomed the graduates and their families and friends and was followed by Hernandez (pictured)who wished the students well in their future endeavors.
Board of Education Chairman Michael Krause offered congratulations to the senior class and said they should “be prepared to take risks as you are about to enter doors you never imagined before.” He added, “You will learn from your disappointments.”
A brief interlude was held when the Branford Concert Choir under the direction of retiring Music Director Cathyann Roding performed, “You Light the Way,” a song she wrote.
Honorary diplomas were presented by Panagoulias to three retiring faculty members who had over 90 years of teaching at Branford High School. They included Roding, the school’s choral director, John Niemiec, a woodworking teacher and Dr. Roy Knickelbein, a science teacher.
Here Panagoulias introduces Dr. Knickelbein, who was accompanied by Keira Integlia
The commencement address was delivered by Roding (pictured), who is retiring after 32 years at Branford High School, where she served as teacher and music director. She reminded members of the class that her daughter Ashley started school with them in grade school. She encouraged them to “follow your heart” and told them to “pursue your passion and don’t compromise your dreams.”
“Be a point of light in the darkness,” she told the graduates. “Be the pebble that starts the ripple of change. Be the candle that lights the way.” She went on to say, “Think big and help out, be proud of yourself. Think of every day as a blessing.”
She ended with, “Be strong, powerful and beautiful. I wish you all the love and happiness.”
Seniors Keira Integlia and Isabelle Gillis presented gifts to faculty advisors, Jen Kohut and Jenn Stackpole. Student Council co- president John Perrotti introduced Class President Ian Bergmann.
Here’s this year’s version of the Cigar guys.
Here Graduate Emily Sachs poses with her proud mother, Betsy.
“I did it, mom.”
“Raising the Roof.”
Soon the next chapter begins.
HyunJim Lim who will be off to West Point soon is shown with his proud family after graduation ended.