Strong bonds at Granby High: ‘We will always have each other’

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  • London Shepherd, 3, plants a kiss on Dakota Shepherd, moments after his big brother received his diploma and a carnation at the Granby Junior Senior High School graduation Saturday. STAFF PHOTOS/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School graduate Brianna Heath pauses for a group hug with her fellow percussionists after performing "Cups (When I'm Gone)" for the last time with the band during commencement exercises on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School English teacher Jessica Swistak gives the commencement address to the 47 graduates and an audience of about 400 in Sullivan Gymnasium on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Granby Junior/Senior High School class of 2019 applauds commencement speaker Jessica Swistak during graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Members of the Class of 2019 turn their tassels to their left after receiving their diplomas Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • London Shepherd, 3, gets a hug from his big brother, Dakota Shepherd, moments after he received his diploma during Granby Junior/Senior High School graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Audience members photograph as the Granby Junior/Senior High School class of 2019 arrives in Sullivan Gymnasium for graduation on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School senior class president Dylan Gordon welcomes everyone to commencement exercises for the 47 graduates on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Blake Griswold and his 46 Granby Junior/Senior High School classmates wait to enter Sullivan Gymnasium for graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Granby Junior/Senior High School class of 2019 faces the flag as the school band plays The Star Spangled Banner to open graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School Principal Stephen Sullivan opens the graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. On the stage with him are, from left, Superintendent Sheryl Stanton, School Committee Chair Michael Simpson, Director of Pupil Services Carol Hepworth and English teacher Jessica Swistak, who delivered the commencement address. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School senior class corresponding secretary Shubham Sharma takes the stage to introduce commencement speaker Jessica Swistak during graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Granby Junior/Senior High School class of 2019 faces the flag as the school band plays The Star Spangled Banner to open graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School valedictorian Edrick Kusumo offers his reflections during graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Schools Superintendent Sheryl Stanton presents the Granby Junior/Senior High School class of 2019 at graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Granby Junior/Senior High School senior class listens to valedictorian Edrick Kusumo during graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby School Committee Chairperson Michael Simpson prepares to present diplomas to the 47 graduates of Junior/Senior High School on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • London Shepherd, 3, heads back to his seat after hugging his big brother, Dakota Shepherd, graduating from Granby Junior/Senior High School on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Granby Junior/Senior High School graduation on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Blake Griswold receives his diploma at Granby Junior/Senior High School graduation ceremonies on Saturday, June 8, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 6/8/2019 6:59:13 PM

GRANBY — The strong bond that members of the Granby Junior Senior High School Class of 2019 have forged over the years was emphasized at the commencement ceremony Saturday morning.

“We have learned to count on each other for smiles and laughs when the going gets tough,” class President Dylan Gordon told classmates assembled for graduation in the high school gymnasium, calling the 47 graduates a “loud, enthusiastic, energetic and sometimes rebellious bunch.”

“A class this small creates a strong bond — most of us have known each other for the majority of our lives and many of us will keep this bond for the rest of our time in this world,” said Gordon, who spent the previous summer in Army basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

“During the long days, under the hot sun, I found myself missing this place,” Gordon recalled. “The memory of loving smiles from teachers to classmates echoed through my mind. The thought of these smiles made the summer days a little cooler and the drill sergeants a little less mean.”

At the end of the final chapter of their high school careers, Gordon reminded his classmates to never forget the ties that bind the Granby graduates.

“We are going our own way now, with the whole world in front of us and high school to our backs,” Gordon said. “Just remember wherever we are in life, we will always have each other.”

English teacher Jessica Swistak gave the ceremony’s commencement address, and she drew a direct correlation between one’s sense of community and health and happiness. Citing studies in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Swistak said, “the number one factor that positively influences life longevity is connection to your community.”

“Connection to one’s community is the secret to long life and happiness that we are all searching for,” she said. “Research showed that joining a club or volunteering has potentially more positive health benefits than perhaps even quitting smoking.”

Looking out into the crowd of graduates, family members and friends, Swistak said she has seen spirited displays of community from the graduating class.

She recalled how Gordon spearheaded a peaceful walkout by the entire student body last year in support of the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida; and the arts night organized by Grace Sinclair, Bridgette Archambault, Kylie Biron and Lilli Dimitropolis where they shared their portfolios with the town community; and she commended Mikaila Depin and Nora Bernash for their many hours over the years volunteering at school dances.

“As you walk across the stage today, and receive your diploma, and then walk out that door of Granby Junior Senior High School one last time, take that spirit with you,” Swistak said. “Go on to forge new bonds, join new communities, follow those passions and remain loyal and committed in all of your endeavors. But keep that Rams spirit with you wherever destiny drives you.”

Principal Stephen Sullivan described the class of 2019 as “full of character,” “rowdy,” “energetic,” and “lion-hearted.”

“This class understands the power of laughs and smiles,” he said. “Class of 2019, as you leave today, I implore you to continue to find ways to have fun, make people laugh and smile and enjoy yourselves and each other.”

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com. 


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