Graduation 2017: “Be the Pebble that Starts the Ripple of Change”

Bill O'Brien PhotoThe 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.

Bill O'Brien PhotoIt 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.

Bill O'Brien PhotoThe 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.

Bill O'Brien PhotoThey 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.

Bill O'Brien PhotoMembers of the class of 2017 sit in front of the large audience on the green.

Bill O'Brien PhotoSchool 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.

Bill O'Brien PhotoBoard 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.”

Bill O'Brien PhotoA 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. 

Bill O'Brien PhotoHere Panagoulias introduces Dr.  Knickelbein, who was accompanied by Keira Integlia

Bill O'Brien PhotoThe 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.”

Bill O'Brien PhotoShe 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.

Bill O'Brien PhotoHere’s this year’s version of the Cigar guys.

Bill O'Brien PhotoHere Graduate Emily Sachs poses with her proud mother, Betsy.

Bill O'Brien Photo“I did it, mom.”

Bill O'Brien Photo“Raising the Roof.”

Soon the next chapter begins.

Bill O'Brien PhotoHyunJim Lim who will be off to West Point soon is shown with his proud family after graduation ended.





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