With leis, bottles of water and cell phones, the graduating class of 2018 marched on the Trumbull High School field Thursday.

It was a time of reflection, and celebration. One graduate was handed what appeared to be a fast food item from a teacher.

“I am so happy right now!” he shouted.

Principal Marc Guarino encouraged the 543 graduating students to make themselves part of the Greatest Generation, paying homage to the young men who answered the call to serve their country in World War II.

He said he didn't bring that up “just to remember the past … but so you see your generation’s future potential.”

The sentiment was echoed through the speeches.

“Your future holds much promise and unlimited potential,” said school board Chairman Loretta Chory. The potential can be harnessed in being grateful, she said. Remember those people who helped pave the way for the graduates to be where they were that day.

“Take a moment to let them know you're grateful,” said Chory.

Pay it forward, she said.

“Make a conscience decision to help others … help as many people as you can,” Chory said.

Catherine Odendahl, the class salutatorian, said the students are already working at that.

“We get things done,” she said, listing off the successes of the class. “When we see a problem, we work to fix it.”

The class did work on social and safety issues. Both Odendahl and class president Matthew Kuroghlian alluded to the national walkout against gun violence students took part in following a mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. Things have changed while the students have been at school.

“I was told by a friend that senior year will be a blast,” said Kuroghlian, and it was. There were late nights on papers and video games, as well as last-minute hikes and more.

“Though our newfound independence may worry our parents, but with their guidance, we are ready” for it, he said. It was this town and the people in it who brought out our passions, whether it is continuing their education, going into a business or trade or the military, he said.

Ten members of the 2018 class are entering service, according to First Selectman Vicki Tesoro, first selectman, who took a moment to thank them as well as current military who were in the audience.

Tesoro also gave some sage advice: Slow down on social media.

“Take the time to talk to one another, face to face,” she said, and have a genuine conversation,” she said. “Try to not have preconceived notions. You owe it to yourself.”

And positivity echoed through the speakers.

“Take the time do listen and to understand,” she said. “Positive change can happen, one person at a time.”

Stefano Mancini, the class valedictorian, thanked the school’s teachers for “creating an environment where we felt free to express ourselves,” even if it was to ask to move a test, he said.

He also said his classmates should go out into the world with an open mind. Not everyone would come from the same background, and you can learn from that.

He ended with a classic quote from the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.

“Goodbye everyone, I'll remember you all in therapy,” he said.

The message from the speakers were simple.

“A heartfelt congratulations to you, this outstanding THS Class of 2018,” said school Supt. Gary Cialfi.
Photos by Lisa Romanchick