WETHERSFIELD - When Wethersfield Mayor Paul Montinieri took the podium in Central Connecticut State University’s (CCSU) Welte Auditorium in New Britain last Tuesday to deliver his address to the graduating Wethersfield High School Class of 2014, he had some tough acts to follow.
“That’s a little bit like being deceased at a funeral,” Montinieri said to a chuckle from the audience. “You’re supposed to be here, but everybody says ‘I hope he doesn’t get up and speak now.’”
But his words were not lacking in good advice to the 288 graduates.
“Always maintain your sense of humor,” said Montinieri said, “because everything you do in life will be much more enjoyable and successful.”
Earlier in the ceremony, Class of 2014 Salutatorian Gregory Corning had taken that advice. When Wethersfield High School Principal Tom Moore rattled off Corning’s accolades and extracurricular activities, among them National Society honors as well as participation as a Special Olympics basketball volunteer, he forgot to mention one thing: His singing voice.
But Corning already had that covered.
“I’ve sat in the same position, listening to speeches that were great at the time, but were forgotten later,” Corning told his classmates.
They won’t forget this one.
“I wondered what all the popular songs from our youth would sound like if the lyrics were about our time at WHS,” he said. “I figured it would sound something like this.”
Then the music to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” began playing, and Corning recounted, in his own version of the song, the awe, intimidation and, ultimately, the triumph of surviving freshman year at Wethersfield High School.
But he wasn’t done. Corning had a set of revised lyrics for three more popular songs, one for each high school year, as he detailed the drama of SATs and the college application process junior year, as well as senior year’s construction project and the resulting parking issues.
And the finale, a rendition of the song “Story of Our Lives,” but with a twist. He had just told the “Story of Our Lives…at WHS.”
Corning’s address was humorous and at the same time nostalgic, but Class of 2014 Valedictorian Timothy Braren reminded his fellow seniors that not all habits have to, or should be, left in the past.
He learned that lesson while sitting in economics class, staring at a poster that read, “All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten,” and one of the tips from author Robert Fulgum said to “be aware of wonder.”
“I think what that really means is, don’t stop being a little kid,” Braren said. “I think what separates us from kids is questioning the world around us. Little kids have the courage to stand up in front of a crowded room and ask ‘why?’ It’s that kind of questioning that has led to changes in history.”
That, and the spirit of doing for others, said Class of 2014 President Sam Solberg.
“If 50 years later, all that changes is the thickness of our wallets, we’ve wasted our talents,” Solberg said during his address.
His message: Don’t forget to give back-in fact, make it the top priority.
“I’ll quote John Bunyan,” he said. “‘You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who cannot repay you.’”
Solberg added, “Excellence is not defined by the talents or abilities you have--it’s how you use them.”
Wethersfield High School Class of 2014:
Wethersfield High School Class of 2014:
Jaclyn Accarpio, Brendan Aceto, Denis Ahmetovic, Michael Albino, Connor Albrecht, Alvi Aliaj, Carlos Almanzar, Max Alpert, Aurora Amadeo, Alexander Ambrose, Christopher Aquino, Demi Arroyo, Drishan Ashworth, Samuel Baldwin, Emily Ballard, Stephen Ballard, Kassandrah Banks, Michael Barry, Griffin Bartone, Rachel Beale, Elvira Beganovic, Elvedin Begzadic, Richard Bielak Jr, Jabes Blas, Bianca Bobadilla, Joseph Bodington, Chilonia Box, William Brannigan, Timothy Braren, Courtney Brazel, Danielle Bromberg, Matthew Brothers, Christopher Buccheri, Santo Buccheri, Adrian Budas, Kate Burkell, Faith Burnett, Emily Buyak, Taylor Buysse, Ryan Byrne, Victoria Caires, Daniel Camilliere, Christopher Candee, Zachary Cantafi, Michael Carrozzella, Savannah Casasanta, Kaelie Caulfield, Sierra Chandler, Joseph Chimirri, Adam Chrostowski, Aleksandra Chrostowski, Heather Ciarletto, Anthony Cicco, Victoria Cipolla, Ethan Clark, Matthew Clark, Mark Cloutier, Ryan Colangelo, Alexandra Comeau, William Connor, Victoria Cormier, Gregory Corning, Ryan Costello, Patrick Coyne, Janette Cruz, Colin Curtin, Brittney Dalkowski, Haley Daniels, Anne Davoren, Lukasz Dawidziuk, Thomas DeAngelo, Hunter DeFurio, James D'Elia, John D'Elia, William DelMastro, Nakeisha Deodat, Whitton DeVaux, Jeffrey Diaz, Rachel DiNatalie, Amanda DiSanzo, Rena Dixon, Matthew Dow, Anthony Drake, Rosa Dubnansky, Brazos Ebner, Emani Edwards, Semra Efendic, Jason El-Hachem, Sidney Eragene, Justin Evans, Emilia Fabi, Teaghan Fallon, Kiran Fatima, Tatiana Feliciano, Deirdre Fern, Gabriella Fitzsimmons, Shawnee Flores, Alexander Fournier, Jiovanni Fusco, Zachary Gagnon, Shreeya Gajraj, Janelle Gaudet, Nicholas Gervais, Olivia Gilbert, Michael Gingrave, Lauren Glendon, Kaitlyn Glynn, Nancy Glynn, Benjamin Goldman, Mariah Gonzalez, Marisa Gonzalez, Margaret Gornicz, Jessica Goyette, Caitlin Gray, Jessica Gray, Ryan Gregoire, Ian Grimes, Sebastiano Gulino, Rachel Hansen, Brendan Hickey, Kasey Hill, Asmir Hodzic, Kenan Hodzic, Amel Huric, Samra Huric, Jimmy Huynh, Joseph Jeffery, Dmytri Johnson, Connor Jones, Benjamin Kaminski, Kenneth Kaminski, Ashley Katz, Cassandra Kauffman, Stavros Kavroudakis, Taylor Kelley, Andrew Kelly, Christopher Klepinger, Safet Korkutovic, Philip Ky, Alysha Laing, Aaron Lajara, Matthew Landrigan, Gina Lanzano, Ksanthipi Lapa, Jordan Lara, Arianna Leahong, Nicole Licznerski, William Livingston, Klejvi Llukaj, Andrew Lucibella, Sara Luiz, James MacGovern, Carlos Maile-Estrella, Sabrina Maldonado, Hunter Malon, Farkhad Mamedov, Jordan Manchester, Analissa Mandile, Armany Manrique, Mario Marena, Giulia Marini, Nicole Marques, Candis Martinez, Paul Matarazzo, Albert Matos, Kelly McDonald, Paige McDunnah, Haley McGuane, Shawn Meade, Ryan Melillo, Alexandra Meredith, Katrina Meucci, John-Michael Milne, Jenisse Miranda, Fernando Montalvo, Christina Moore, Xhesi Morena, Alexandra Motta, Richard Motta, Taylor Motuzick, Jonathan Mudge-Fisher, Alexander Mullin, Zachary Mullin, John Murphy, Carly Nasatka, Elizabeth Neilan, Jacob Nicoletti, Matthew Nicoletti, Ryan Nowak, Muhamed Nukic, Taylor Nyari, Trevor Nyren, Angelika Obuch, Luke Ocasio, Olivia O'Connor, Anthony Oliveri, Karolyn Olsen, Kamila Orzechowski, Kanat Osmonov, Daniela Ospina, Samuel Pagni, Asia Paige, Austin Pallone, Kayla Parmanand, Michael Patrizzo, Lukas Pearson, Joel Perez, Kristany Perez, Ryan Peterson, Stephanie Peterson, Casey Pettengill, Dejana Pezic, Jamison Philbrick, Jamie Piscitello, Francis Portonova, Filiza Preniqi, Nicholas Quadrato, Michael Rago, Marc Ramos, Brendan Rascius, Daria Repoli, Brennan Rhodes, Arielle Rios, Amelia Roberts, Ashley Robles, Osvaldo Rodriguez, Katelyn Rutty, Alexandra Saharek, Briana Santana, Jamie Sanzo, Tsampika-Kitsa Savvis, Katrina Schoell, Giancarlo Serrao, Giovanni Serrao, Rachael Sidote, Nicholas Signorello, Andrew Silva, Manuel Silva, Matthew Simmons, Kara Sitnik, David Skau, Geoffrey Skowronek, Rebecca Skowronek, Zacarias Slater, Christina Slayton, Jenna Snide, Samuel Solberg, Robert Sollima, Alexander Sommers, Brad Sozanski, Helen Stec, Gabriella Stefano, Jordan Stephenson, Brendan Stewart, Daysha Stewart, Truman Strodel, Kelsey Sullivan, Jessica Tallo, Dylan Tanguay, John Tarascio, Zane Tatro, David Thomas, Joshua Torres, Dat Tran, Cindy Trinh, Jessica Tucker, Joseph Urso, Nicole Varca, Marisa Vasconcelos, Abigail Vermeal, Lindsey Vieweg, Kyle Vonick, Joshua Walsh, Pierce Weatherspoon, Makayla Whelahan, Mariel Williams, Rebecca Wilson, James Wollschlager, Nopell Wong, Jozef Wroblewski, Sebastian Wroblewski, Jason Yanaros, Benjamin Yandow, Steven Yatrousis, Matthew Zapor, Dominik Ziolek, Joseph Zocco.