Lively group supports each other

Humid weather mixed with thunder storms didn't stop 330 seniors, their families, faculty and supporters from celebrating the 45th commencement exercise at Amity Senior High School.

The event, held on the schools' athletic field, was a mix of tears, cries of joy and a goodbye to Acting Principal Dan Hatch. Hatch will take a job with the Stratford school system in the fall.

On-lookers were greeted by a lone picketer, Lance Gherlone, covered with a placard expressing outrage at the loss of Hatch.

"Thanks to some school board members we've lost Mr. Hatch - who's next," read the signs.

Gherlone's protest dealt with the announcement last Thursday of Hatch's resignation. He had been acting principal for the past year and applied for the full principalship only to be turned down by the Amity Board of Education.

During the ceremonies, Hatch spoke fondly of the positive direction the graduates were headed in mentioning how many students went out of their way to aid those in need.

"You did not shy away from risks - you worked hard and the results were worth it," Hatch told the graduates adding that he was proud of them. The group cheered him when he was finished.

Maura Porto of Woodbridge, named student with Outstanding Accomplishment, told fellow graduates that "it was time to start over without an idenity." Referring to the labels given to each other over the years.

Elizabeth Wade Kaloyanides of Bethany, named student with Academic Achievement, told fellow classmates that they were all "intelligent" because they were able to look beyond each other's imperfections.

"We are the next generation and we can change the world one step at a time," she said.

Jon "Jack" Santucci received the Amity Education Award of Distinction from Associate Principal Marietta Mattei. She praised Santucci for always being where good was done.

Dr Rolfe Wenner, who had a presentation planned was rained out.

"Oh the heck with it - good luck," Wenner told the graduates.

Santo Galatioto, chairman of the board of education awarded the diplomas. Amity Board of Education member Denise Mirto assisted Galatioto in presenting diplomas. In addition to handing her son Nick his, she gave out an additional eleven to students who requested her to be their presenter.