Ceremony pushed indoors,
split between two gyms
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to Fairfield.Patch.com)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Fairfield, CT – All morning, ceremony organizers eyed the skies and watched the weather reports, trying to determine if the event could be held outdoors. Buckets of rain and flash flooding drove the decision to push it indoors. It was a disappointment, but would not quell the buoyant, excited feeling that carried the day.
Thursday evening, Fairfield Ludlowe High School held its Sixth Annual Commencement Exercises, celebrating the Class of 2011 and graduating 338 seniors. Twenty-nine of these students had the distinction of maintaining a grade point average of 4.0 or better for four years. Ninety-two students graduated as National Honor Society members.
The commencement was initially planned for Taft Field in the school’s stadium but pushed inside when it was clear the weather would not cooperate. An estimated 1,800 spectators were divided between two gyms. In the main gym, the graduation occurred; the secondary gym carried a live video feed of the exercises for the audience gathered there. This was the first time in the six years of graduation ceremonies that the event was held indoors.
“The weather was ridiculous today with all the rain,” said Athletic Director Dave Schultz, helping with crowd control at the entry to the main gym. “Student Activities Director Victor Mirrer should get a lot of credit for organizing the move indoors. We didn’t want to shut anyone out that would normally have been able to attend an outdoor function.”
Schultz added, “This has been a great senior class. We’re proud of them and are looking forward to hearing about their successes as they move on.”
Bob Kennedy, father of graduate Christopher, felt fortunate to be a Fairfielder. “Chris is headed to Villanova to study engineering,” he said. “We feel we’re blessed to be living in Fairfield and for his getting the quality education that got him into a top school. He’s prepared and had a great experience here, involved in baseball, football and track.”
Sitting in the stands nearby, parent Mary Cody said, “My daughter Megan is headed to the University of Scranton to major in community health. Ludlowe gave her a great internship at RYASAP in Bridgeport. She had a wonderful experience here.”
As proud as the parents were graduates’ siblings, like Caitlin Clarkson Pereira, whose sister Amanda was part of the Class of 2011. “She’s going to my alma mater Western Connecticut State University,” she said. “She was a great student, working hard in her AP classes. I can’t wait to see all the great things she’ll do in college.”
Among the grads themselves, Bobby Murphy, draped in a blue gown and cap, joked, “The friends and experiences I had here at Ludlowe shaped me into the man of character and integrity I am today. I’m going to Old Miss. Hotty toddy!”
Grad Jill Steinhauer, looking like a picture in a white gown and clutching a yellow rose, said, “I’ve made some of the best memories of my life at Ludlowe and will miss all my fellow students and teachers. St. Joe’s here I come!”
Standing in a row behind Steinhauer, grad Lucia Harold commented, “I had a great time here the last four years. I’m happy to graduate, but will really miss it.”
Addressing the gathering, Headmaster Dr. Vanessa Reale said, “Our celebration will not be dampened by the rain. The sun shines on the Class of 2011. Our students have a powerful support system. These grads will be our future professionals. Their potential has no limits. You are truly a remarkable class. Best wishes.”
As she yielded the podium to Senior Class President Zach Tobin, beach balls went flying into the air above the seated graduates. As humorous was Tobin’s speech, laced with witty observations.
“I want to thank the faculty,” he said. “Without the leather couches and ping pong tables, the senior lounge would be a dark place. Thanks to mom and dad. We would literally not be here without you. Thanks to my classmates – the bold, brave, beautiful Class of 2011. If I had to do it again, I would not change a thing.”
Tobin added, “Look at us now – taller, less awkward, and really good at ping pong. In the words of Biggie Smalls, the sky’s the limit.”