Coginchaug Regional High School graduated its 2014 class during a June 20 ceremony at the Julian B. Thayer auditorium, The rite-of-passage event included a spate of cell phone selfies which became a regular part of the proceedings.
Multiple transitions undergone by the high school and the district were evident during commencement when 136 seniors received their diplomas. It was the first District 13 commencement for schools Superintendent Kathryn Veronesi and the last for interim CRHS principal Don Gates. During her speech, “Presentation of the Class of 2014”, Veronesi recognized incoming CRHS principal Brian Falcone.
During introductory remarks, former CRHS teacher Gates described returning as CRHS principal as a dream come true. He complimented the ability of the senior class to overcome obstacles. “What the world needs now is people like you,” Gates said.
Chosen to give the commencement address, English teacher Rebecca Suchy noted that she began student teaching, at Strong, with the class of 2014 and followed them to CRHS. “Next year I will approach a new school year without you for the first time.”
Suchy said, “Your learning will not stop when you walk across the stage ... you will learn from others as I have learned from you.”
While acknowledging she came late to their educational journey, Veronesi spoke of getting to know students. She referred to topics such as students’ favorite lunch boxes, the time Abby Eisner brought her baby brother in for show and tell, and the time students got in trouble with former Lyman principal Karen Brimecombe just for throwing “a single pea” — which drew laughter of recognition from the students.
Seniors Molly MacDuff and Julia Orosz sang “For Good” from the play “Wicked” and turned to their classmates to deliver the line “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.”
Austin Barrett sang “100 Years” by Five for Fighting and accompanied himself on the piano between the salutatory and valedictory addresses.
Salutatorian Kasi Whitaker delivered her speech entirely in rhyme, dropping class-specific jokes and advice such as: “We finally get to choose what to do. Just make sure it matters to you.”
Valedictorian Sam Turley delivered a deconstruction of a graduation speech with the help of Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” button. Turley both followed and broke the Internet’s advice for graduation speeches, including “Make your mother cry,” and ended with a “Princess Bride” quote: “Have fun storming the castle!”