A record was set Wednesday evening at the football field as 287 members of the class of 2012, the 172nd commencement, accepted their diplomas and entered into adulthood.
We don't mean the temperatures — although the sweltering heat and humidity made for quite a challenging ceremony — rather the 341 colleges petitioned by the class of 2012 for higher education, according to retiring principal Robert Fontaine, the highest number ever.
"So many of you already demonstrated the level of commitment to truly make a difference in the world around you," Fontaine said. "Now, more than ever, the world is depending on you to make a positive change."
He then listed the class's many accomplishments. "Sixty-seven of you had a GPA of 87 or better, 21 of you will be recognized as presidential scholars this evening, with a GPA of higher than 90 over four years.
"You have applied to 341 colleges this year, a record for us," Fontaine said.
After 35 years in academia, 14 of them in Middletown, Fontaine is retiring at the end of June.
Wednesday's ceremony was a triumphant one, with students going on to colleges like Bentley, Boston University, Colgate, Emerson, George Washington, Rochester Institute of Technology, Stonybrook, Vassar, Wesleyan and Wheaton universities, Fontaine said.
The ceremony was marked by speeches given by class president Reba Stanley, valedictorian Kirsten Hawley and salutatorian Imran Bhuiyan.
Hawley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Hawley of Sunnyslope Drive, is valedictorian. She took the most rigorous courses offered; Advanced Placement and advanced level courses. At Wesleyan University, she earned credit for conducting experiments and completing research in one of their scientific labs. In her senior year, Hawley participated in the Student Exchange Program with the Rotary Club, and studied abroad in Lyon, France.
Hawley has been awarded the Harvard Book Award, Brown Book Award, Rensselaer Medal Award, and the AP Scholar Award. Hawley has always received high honors and has been regularly published in the Silent Sounds Literary Magazine.
Next fall, Hawley will attend Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she will pursue degrees in English and biology.
Bhuiyan, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ayer Ahmed Bhuiyan of Rapallo Avenue, who moved at the beginning of his sophomore year to the United States from Bangladesh, is class salutatorian. He had to first enroll in English as a Second Language classes to assist with learning English. Immediately, he began to pursue the most demanding courses Middletown High School offers, taking Advanced Placement and advanced level classes.
He is a member of National Honor Society and Math and Chemistry teams. His Chemistry Olympiad team placed first in the state of Connecticut. He was awarded the Yale Book award as a junior for the highest GPA and has received numerous recognition awards and scholarships.
This fall, Imran will attend The University of Connecticut, majoring in engineering.
Middletown High is the oldest continuous diploma-issuing high school in Connecticut, and has done so since 1840.