Most high school graduations have pomp and circumstance but you’d be hard pressed to find one that had as many politicians as graduation on June 22.
Technical schools are a key component of the passed by Congress last year and elected officials turned out en masse to tout the merits of a technical education that prepares students to enter the workforce right from the get-go.
Distinguished guests at the commencement ceremony included U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Andrea Stillman (D-East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford), State Rep. Deputy Speaker Kevin Ryan (D-Bozrah, Franklin, Lebanon, and Montville, State Rep. Betsy Ritter (D-Waterford, Montville), City of Groton Mayor Marian K. Galbraith, and commencement speaker George Coleman, retired Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education.
“This education is where it’s happening in the United States of America,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn.) “What we’re trying to do is build more Grasso Techs. You will have the skills to grow our economy as well as your own career.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Congressman Joe Courtney. “Ella Grasso is connected to ,” he said. “What you are doing here has risen to the top of national discussion.”
Courtney, who recently hosted a in Norwich, said that there are plenty of jobs for workers who have the skills that employers are looking for in today’s economy. The training provided by Ella Grasso, he said, goes a long way to meeting those needs.
“I’m a business owner and I will tell you that the number one reason a company stays in Connecticut or moves to Connecticut is its skilled workforce,” Joseph J. Vrabely, Jr., a Connecticut State Board of Education member and president and co-owner of Atlantic Steel & Processing, LLC, said in a speech to students. “Connecticut needs you.”
This isn’t news to Ella Grasso’s class of 2012. Salutatorian George Pytlik, a self-described “hands-on learner” who is graduating in Information Systems Technology and headed for college, emphasized the fact that everyone at Ella Grasso was prepared to enter the workforce.
“We can only hope the economy will turn around but if not, we all have trades,” he said, noting that no matter what, there’s always going to be a need for electricians to keep the lights on, mechanics to keep cars on the road, caterers to prepare delicious meals, and beauticians to make everyone look good.
As gratifying as it might have been for students to hear how proud all the speakers were of what they had accomplished, it was nothing compared to the obvious pride of their parents, who stood on bleachers to wave and cheer their support.
The students were equally enthusiastic. Despite sweltering under polyester gowns in a gym that was as hot as a sauna, they whooped and hollered and cheered for their friends from start to finish and accepted their diplomas with heartfelt hugs from faculty and staff.
“Think well of yourselves. You are educated, you are smart, and you are highly skilled,” said Groton School Superintendent Patricia A. Ciccone. “It will give you a leg up. Expect only the best from yourselves and from others.”
ROLL OF CANDIDATES FOR GRADUATION Class of 2012
Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing: Steven Violette, Department Head John Oliva, Instructor
Jake Leslie Bradby Marcus Francisco Guerrero Angel Jose Guzman* Luke Eric Kirkham* Jeremy Richard Palmer** Daminica Estel Santiago Juan Riccardo Santiago Brian Joseph Scacciaferro Samuel Silva* Travis Ward, Jr.* Fersan Jeisten Warren
Automotive Technology: John Blake, Department Head Daniel Adams, Instructor
Irwin Odani Alvarado Santino Rocco Francischelli* Jacob R. Hildebrand Laurencia E. Laurent* Guillermo Luis Lopez* Brandon Raymond McNulty* David Allan Paterno Spencer Russell Perry Justin Travis Post Jacob Anthony Rhoades* Timothy James Riegle Gaspar Rodriguez Cristian A. Silva* Ryan Christian Vara*
Bioscience & Environmental Technology: Larry Fritch, Department Head Christopher McVeigh, Instructor
Melissa Sue Dolzenchuk** Jaicee Lynn Getchell** Jessica Edythe Harris* Kylie Ann Henderson** Joseph Gibson Kotfer** Adam Lelievre Heather Marie Linski* Timothy Glen Meadows* Ethan Mark Metayer* Katelynn Marie Schlehofer** Tyler Duane Willadsen*
Carpentry: Raymond Stawski, Department Head Gene Chaude, Instructor
Ralph Woodrow Abbott** Juan M. Arroyo Andrew Barnes* Robert Fowler Benfatto Taylor Clark* Zachery Gagnon* Joshua M. Haderski** Nicholas Clayton Hensley Tyler Robert Kuhn* Shawn Alan Lagace** Calvin Lawrence Leyko Gabriel Martinez* Leo Joseph Moran* Ryan R. Schaffer Andre Thomas**
Computer-Aided Drafting and Design: Thomas Allen, Department Head David Bono, Instructor
Eduardo Angel Aguilar** Stanley Dubrel Barnes** Chad Steven Brainard Robert Cosmo Bridges* Sarah Nichole Dickinson* Taylor Alexander Foxworthy* Sara Yasmin Gonzalez* Alexander V. Haeseler** Chelsea Elizabeth Henderson** James Allen Hudgins Jayne M. Morris** Livenette Negron** Kyle Robert Drake Smith Evan A. Von Winkle** Corwin Walker* Timothy Wiglusz*
Culinary Arts: David Miguel, Department Head Seamus Donagher, Instructor Paul Jones, Instructor
Jammel Benjamin Caldwell* Stephanie Yuderka Castillo* Ashley Rene Caswell** Quintell S. Davis* Allyson Dole** Amanda Ann Donais Jarel Josiah Drayton* Hilaira Estevez* Hannah Lynn Gumbs** Jacqueline J. Houatchanthara* Brittany Jarret-Shepherd* Erika Lynn Jones** Bruce Allyn Martin** Chanel E. McClardy* Paige Louise Mingione* Pedro Angel Perez Jennifer Marie Purdon** Jasmine Ramirez** Tylesse Shaquanna Riddick Jose A. Rosado Brandon Cody Smith* Ashlee McKenna Turner** Jesus Javier Vazquez*
Electrical: John Sylvestre, Department Head Kevin Riley, Instructor
Tyler Berry James Dillion Dunbar Jacob Bryce Gironimi* Tyler James Huston* Lyle Kenneth Lamoureux** Ross A. Lorenzo Jayson Patrick Manning Rick Paul Perez* Carlos R. Quiles Sean Zeppieri*
Hairdressing, Barbering & Cosmetology: Lynn Zakowski, Department Head Victoria Smallwood, Instructor
Amanda Faith Atkinson* Deana Rhnae Brewer** Rosa Maria De La Cruz* Tanaysha Sheree Dixon* Chelsea Ryann Fournier* Tanajiah Diamond LeSane* Elda Guadalupe Sanabria* Lisandra Santana* Lauren Elizabeth Savini* Brittni Nicole Whitfield Leah Mae Wilcox*
Hospitality, Tourism & Guest Services Management: Christopher R. Jones, Department Head Michael White, Instructor Todd LaPorte, Instructor
Janea Kyra Borrego* Luisanna Cabrera* Adriana C. Carrion* Yenaldy Delgado* Sara Lucia Diaz-Chia* Daniel Elias Encarnacion Brucarmen Hernandez* Imalay Jeanette Jiminez* Janae Alexis Robinson Daritza Lyz Rodriguez* Lizandro Rodriguez Christopher Jamel Rose
Information Systems Technology: Shawn Carpenter, Department Head Abayomi Wilson, Instructor
Michael Anthony Attinello* Victor Hugo De La Cruz* Alberto Alexander Latorre* Jaeer David Mendoza* Unika Gloria Monge** Shateeka Phillips** George Pytlik** Mackensie Kaitlyn Rhodes** Ricki Thomas* Mary Jane Warren* Jacob Werrbach** Keanu Alexander Wilson*
Plumbing & Heating Technology: Brian Legare, Department Head Eric Sabo, Instructor
Jordon Aaron Brown* Jacob Cody Bushnell Kyle Woodbury Emery** William Colin Godwin* Tyler Matthew Gonzales* Nicole Erin Ladd** Tyler Louis Losacano** Kyle David Ortiz Kelsey Louise Reeves** Michael Ryan Schroeder Brent Zachary Vik*
* Honors ** High Honors
Congratulations to all!