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Norwalk Students Leave McMahon's 'U.N.,' Head for World

NORWALK, Conn. – Christopher Madaffari had a unique viewpoint to take a photo of his Norwalk classmates as they graduated from Brien McMahon High School on Friday night.

Madaffari, salutatorian of the Class of 2012, shot a photo of the more than 400 cap-and-gown-clad teenagers from a lectern set up in the middle of Jack Cassagrande Field. After he welcomed the people in the crowded bleachers, he went on to recount snapshots of their lives together — crowd surfing at the prom, chasing Big Wheels or cheering the Senators.

Common memories formed for the group during the graduation included a speech from "beloved" teacher Steven Annunziato, a beach ball tossed over the students' heads and doubts expressed by the valedictorian.

"Are they seriously considering giving us diplomas and sending us out into the real world?" Katherine Buellesbach said. "I mean, let's be honest ... I'm 18 years old, and I still don't know how to do my laundry."

But Buellesbach expressed confidence that she and her classmates know most of the big things that they need to know.

"It's up to you not to forget them," she said. "You know what you love, now it's just a matter of going out there and doing it, pursuing it for the rest of your life."

Annunziato, a social studies teacher, reminded the teens of the lessons they had learned and urged them to share them with the world.

"Take this walking United Nations that is Brien McMahon High School, with our acceptance and our diversity, and spread it to all society," he said. "If we can live together in peace others can learn that lesson as well."

Maddafari also spoke of diversity, students who came from "the streets of India to those of Colombia to right next door on Highland Avenue."

"This is what makes our class who we are," he said. "All of our pictures may be through different lenses and from different angles and perspectives, but it is within these moments that these pictures were taken that have created an album of experiences that we will carry throughout our lives."

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