Tears trickled from the eyes of Gerard Edens Fleurizard and he buried his head in his hands as the 220 graduates of Fairfield College Preparatory School walked from Alumni Hall in their white tuxedo jackets, red ties and red carnation boutonnieres at the conclusion of the 72nd commencement exercises Sunday.
The proud father from Stratford was overcome with emotion at the joy of seeing his son Tyrone Austin Fleurizard get his high school diploma.
"He's my first son," Gerard Fleurizard said.
His were not the only tears shed as others during the nearly two-hour graduation ceremony had to reach for tissues. Senior class speaker Andrew J. Ostrosky, 18, of Ridgefield, had some classmate and dozens in the audience dabbing their eyes throughout his moving remarks.
Ostrosky, who was seriously injured in a rugby game on April 22, told the crowd he was warned that people remember only the beginning of a graduation speech. So he opened his by saying "I love you" to his classmates. He also used his injury as a metaphor for their years at Fairfield Prep.
"After the initial moments in the ambulance, my left eye swelled shut, and my right eye closed soon after due to fatigue. I didn't open my eyes for three days. This time could be defined as dark, uncertain and unfamiliar. These same characteristics define our freshman year at Prep," Ostrosky said.
Ostrosky said his injury, although untimely and frustrating, "seemingly opened my eyes to the fact that Prep will forever be a part of me and of each and every man wearing a white jacket and red bow tie in this gym ... Friendships get remembered, but a brotherhood never dies. Follow your heart boys."
He also imitated Housemaster John Brennan trying to pronounce the surname of seven-foot tall fellow graduate and basketball star Paschal Chidiebere Chukwu over the school's speaker system.
"This is Mr. Brennan, will uh, oh boy, Paschal Shakira come to my office. Cindy did I get it right this time?" Ostrosky mimicked stand-up comic style. At the reception that followed the popular Brennan was overwhelmed with requests to pose for photographs.
The Rev. John J. Hanwell, S.J., president of Fairfield Prep, did some performing of his own. While introducing the members of the Class of 1964 who attended the event and were awarded golden diplomas, Hanwell sang the theme songs of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Addams Family," as well as bits of the Beatles' "She Loves You," the Dixie Cups' "Chapel of Love" and "My Guy" by Mary Wells.
"Few could have anticipated the scope and pace of change that has affected our lives in just these last 50 years," he told the crowd. "From the pay phone to Skype, from the juke box to iTunes, from snail mail to electronic mail, from hard copy books to ebooks; spiral notebooks to electronic notebooks, from the Cheerleading Club to the infamous BOMB Squad, from Baggie pants to Chinos, from passing notes in class to ...texting...or tweeting in class."
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport called the graduates "uniquely talented and blessed" with the gift of leadership. He encouraged them to find inspiration in the successes and achievements of the Class of 1964 and to serve as "missionaries of hope."
"It is at Fairfield Prep where you have seen us mature into the young men we have become today. It is at Fairfield Prep where we have seen ourselves develop into `men for others,' " said Senior Class President Tony R. Fox II.
In a nod to today's traditions, David Zielinski, the last graduate to cross the stage, paused to take a selfie. Outside, there were as many selfies taken by graduates, families nd friends as there were posed shots. Read Full Article
Thomas Martin Doyle Jr., a Bridgeport native now a lawyer from Hartford, said it was "grand" to see fellow members of the Class of 1964. Most of whom he had not seen since the day they graduated except on Facebook.
Commencement speaker: Bishop Frank Caggiano
Student Speaker: Andrew Ostrosky of Ridgefield
Gates Millenium Scholar: Jairo Martinez, who will attend Columbia University