While spending just two years at Dodd Middle School, Julia Fielding feels that her memories and lessons learned will have a long-lasting impact. After dancing for 10 years, she recalls how needing an ankle reconstruction forced her to give up her passion but, through her school, she had the chance to join the drama club.
“What I loved most about dance is the performing,” reflected Fielding. “While I miss it (dancing), I really loved being in the drama club at Dodd. I was fortunate to have that opportunity.”
That story highlighted her Farewell Address at last Thursday’s Dodd Promotion ceremony, held at Cheshire High School.
“I was more excited than nervous,” said Fielding. “It was such an honor to be speaking in front of all these students and parents.”
Fielding started her speech by reflecting on arriving at Dodd and then transitioning to eighth grade. She touched on some of her favorite activities, including the lip-sync challenge, talent show, and students vs. teachers basketball and volleyball games.
Fielding talked about how her education has extended outside the school.
“One of the most important life lessons I’ve learned throughout my Dodd experience is how to contribute to a community and how to think about others besides yourself,” explained Fielding.
Fielding was caught off guard when a couple of CHS announcements came over the loudspeaker in the gym, but she recovered to finish her speech.
“It was a bit of a shock at first and then it became comical,” explained Fielding. “From my years of dance and theatre, you have to roll with things and act like nothing happened.”
Fielding estimated that it took her about two weeks to write her speech. After Dodd considered multiple submissions, Fielding was notified of her selection on June 7.
“That was crazy. I was in the middle of yearbook signing on the field (at Dodd) when my language arts teacher said that I had to go to the office,” recalled Fielding. “He (Principal Michael Woods) said that I had written a great speech that connected to what I had done at Dodd.”
In lead up to Thursday’s promotion ceremony, Dodd administrators were concerned about the weather. While rain led to the event being moved indoors at CHS, family and friends were still able to attend the ceremony in the West Gym or watch live on a big screen in the auditorium.
“The high school was very accommodating,” said Woods. “Everyone did a great job putting this event together.”
Woods spoke of how special this class of students has been and that they deserved to be recognized.
“They supported one another over the last two years,” stated Woods. “They also took on global initiatives in places like South America.”
Woods opened the ceremony by thanking his secretaries, Dodd guidance counselor Lisa Raczka, Norton School teacher Deb Manke, maintenance staff, CHS administration, Dodd Parent Teacher Association, and teachers for helping to plan the event.
Following the singing of the National Anthem and a reading of the “Pledge to the Flag,” Woods thanked the students for their time at Dodd and wished them well in transitioning to high school.
“You leave Dodd with all the tools necessary to be successful at the high school level. It is now up to you as an individual to implement those tools and grasp the opportunities in front of you,” stated Woods.
Next, three citizenship awards, named for former Dodd employees, were handed out. First, Dodd PTA President Jennifer Bates announced Sofia Johnston as the recipient of the PTA Alphonse Grasso Award. The award honors citizenship, dedication, cooperation, and dignity.
Next, Audrey Bronson was called up to receive the Michael Molloy Award from Raczka.
“It felt very rewarding,” said Bronson. “I’m proud of everyone in my class. Our teachers were so good.”
Bronson will attend CHS this fall.
“Moving to a new school is always nerve-wracking. I think it will be a great opportunity to meet new people,” stated Bronson, whose older sister Vivian and older brother Ethan graduated from high school before her.
After Bronson was recognized, School Counselor Lindsay DeAngelo presented the Nancy Kucinskas Award to Aishlinn Parrinello. Students were asked to nominate a classmate who has a positive attitude, consistent effort, support of others, open mindedness, self motivation, and consciences decision-making.
Assistant Principal John Perosino stepped up next to announce other recent award winners. Asya Tarabar and Julia Xu were named Connecticut Association of Schools scholar leaders. Anna Pociu and Julianna Tyler received the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Award. Kristina Sirois was the recipient of the Rotary Club of Cheshire Student Award.
William Lovelace, Rocco Ocone-Krause, Julia Swartz, and Kylee Vazquez garnered Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendent’s Awards.
Following the awards program, teachers brought each student on stage to be recognized and get their certificates.
“It means a lot,” stated Ryan Barbieri, on being promoted from Dodd. “It is a big step for us.”
Barbieri enjoyed being part of the Dodd baseball team and teaming with people like classmate Ben Strout.
“It was playing with friends at Dodd and also being part of travel teams together,” stated Barbieri.
Strout will attend CHS with Barbieri.
“We will get to make new friends, but I’ll still miss people when we go to different high schools next year,” added Strout, who will join his older brother Zach in attending Cheshire High this fall.
After students received their certificates and Fielding made her Farewell Address, Cheshire Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan spoke to the crowd. He thanked Fielding for showing grace and composure during her speech and then challenged the students to take advantage of their opportunities by trying clubs and activities at the high school.
“If you don’t love it, you have the support of one another to get you through it and it’s a learning experience. This is where you have the opportunity to explore.” said Solan.
In reflecting on her Dodd experience, Jordan Boucher was proud of the relationships she formed with classmates.
“I liked seeing all my friends and getting to meet new people,” said Boucher.
Jack Wable looks forward to following his older brother Ben to CHS and joining sports teams, too.
“I’m excited to play football, basketball, and lacrosse next year,” said Wable.