One hundred and twenty-four young men and women were unleashed into the world Monday, as the graduated its class of 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Cromwell.
Students received degrees in 11 areas, including automotive collision repair and refinishing, carpentry, hairdressing and barbering, culinary arts, informations systems technology.
Common Councilman Thomas Serra, former 30-year principal at Vinal, delivered a message on behalf of Mayor Dan Drew, who couldn't make the ceremony. "Vinal still has place in my heart," said Serra, himself nine years removed from leadership at the school.
"No matter what track that you take, going to college, going to work, you, technical high school graduates, are the backbone of this country," Serra said, which was met with a round of applause from the audience.
Salutatorian Aimee Gondek (electro-mechanical) spoke to the grads, adding a bit of levity to the formal event. "It has been said that our class has its very own Vinal call as well as its own unique high-five and the best class clowns Vinal has ever had the pleasure to educate — Mike Sapia [class president] and Ashley Dupree."
Sapia, himself an electrical graduate, then spoke to students, quote Clint Eastwood, "Self-respect leads to self-discipline." As he looked back at the last four years, Sapia said, "School itself is like a big test: making sure that we prepare for the real world."
shared a bit of his life story with the graduates as a way to illustrate that sometimes spending one's life to helping others trumps financial security.
"I am a real-life expert in banking regulations and probably the best-known consultant in the bank industry in the entire country," Suzio said. He's gotten questions, he said, from people wondering why, if he gets paid so much more as a consultant, why would he want to be a state senator.
"The truth is, happiness is when you serve other people," Suzio said. "It's not making a lot of money, It's when you're devoting yourself to the good of other people." His bit of advice? "Use those skills you've learned in these four years, use them for others."
For a full list of graduates, see the attached photos.