2018 Graduation Ceremony

The much loved outdoor graduation tradition continued with today’s ceremony -- sophisticated, smooth, touching, and awe-inspiring. 481 members of the Class of 2018, stepped on to the field at 4 p.m. sharp, June 21, to the chords of "Pomp and Circumstance" performed by the NFA Concert Band, directed by Kristen Motola. The students followed Corporators, and student marshals Natalie Dionne and Kailee Kerrigan escorted honored guests to the dais. Almost 80 members of the 50th reunion Class of 1968, led by faculty, accompanied the Academy’s newest graduates to the field to the melody of bagpipers Colleen Cournoyer ’12 and Daniel Pislowski ’12.

Broadcast

Program

Ivy Orator

Speakers at graduation are determined by participation in the Cadden-Williams Prize Speaking Contest

Delivered, June 21, 2018

Joleigh Yim - Ivy Orator

Welcome to the end of an amazing four years, and to the beginning of a new age. Not only is this the official end of an era for those of us who were born before the new millennium, but it is also the end of a courageous journey. Although this high school adventure has come to a conclusion, a new story now begins.

We were the architects of our four years as students at Norwich Free Academy. Now, we are the architects of of our lives as Norwich Free Academy Alumni. This is the grand finale of our journey along this red and white brick road.

In the words of Adrienne Rich, “It’s exhilarating to be alive during a time of awakening consciousness.” Today, we are indeed alive; and our minds are awakened and ready for what is to come.

In Judaism, the Hebrew word for “God,” “Yahweh,” can be translated to “I Am.” I Am the architect of this beginning. We are the architects Our era. Today, we step into the future, and each of us is a construction in progress.

I have been inspired by the words of President John F. Kennedy, Maya Angelou, and Martin Luther King Jr. Who has inspired you? Use their words and thoughts to map your way to the future. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Where will we go from here?” I say, “Where will You go from here?” What road will You construct? Will yours be a gravel footpath, a two-lane street, or a multi-lane freeway?

I Am. You are. We Are Norwich Free Academy Class of 2018 Alumni. I wish you all the best. Congratulations.

Class Speaker

Speakers at graduation are determined by participation in the Cadden-Williams Prize Speaking Contest

Delivered, June 21, 2018

Guercie Guerrier - Class Speaker

Good afternoon, I would like to tell you a story today. In 1999 a man from Haiti left behind his wife and daughter to travel to the United States to seek opportunity. In time, his wife joined him, but they left their daughter behind to meet immigration requirements. In the meantime, I was born here. It was eight years before my sister and I could live together in Norwich. She became my role model.

The power of education gave my parents the means to improve their lives. My dad was a pastor; my mom, an accountant, but here in their new country their credentials were not recognized. They learned English, and they found only backbreaking work to support their children. Because of my parents’ selfless actions, today I have an education with credentials that are recognized.

This is my story. On this beautiful campus, there are thousands of stories, but as new NFA Alumni, we share one:

Freshman year, we had a spark in our soul. We started scared, excited, and hopeful for all the Academy offered us: arts, sports, music, but above all, the light of learning and experience. Over six hundred bright faces were ready for a challenge. Now, four years later, look at us! We have accomplished so much. In Cranston House our safe haven, we huddled together, away from the tall, scary, strange seniors. Our diverse cultures, languages, ethnicities intertwined as we taught each other phrases, “Sak Pase!” or “Nap Boule.” Our spark ignited.

Lower year, we felt more comfortable, our light shined a bit brighter. The knowledge we acquired the previous year fanned our flame. Students from around the region and the world, teachers who poured their hearts into our spirit, and friends who contributed to our happiness, helped us take pride in our class identity.

Upper year, dawned; “the most important year,” as many reminded us time and time again. Long nights, early mornings, and loads of work became our normal. In dark moments, all of us feared that our light would extinguish, but we found strength…to walk up the infamous stairs of Tirrell, to write that paper, take that test, face that science lab, and move brightly forward.

Senior year was farthest from our easiest year. Through the college and scholarship applications, captains’ meetings, managing clubs, and being leaders on campus, we overcame all. As the Class of 2018, our luminescence grew as we prepared for this beginning.

Today, the glow of your smile tells our story.

I am proud to be a part of the illustrious Class of 2018.

Our family, teachers, and classmates have encouraged our tenacity and resilience. Our NFA education will continue to burn in our soul. We are brighter individuals than we were four years ago.

Whatever we pursue in the future -- a college education, military service, or a career in the workplace, remember we have spent four years tending our spark at Norwich Free Academy. Today we are a flame -- a torch of goodness. Let’s go, and light this world.