NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — After a year of hybrid learning, Norwich Free Academy students were able to have an in-person graduation Wednesday complete with parents and all.
“Oh, it was so good. We were so happy that after this terrible year we actually got to graduate and walk across for the first time which is really enjoying,” said NFA graduate Cassidy White.
She also enjoys seeing NFA listed among 24 schools on several billboards congratulating the classes of 2021 in eastern Connecticut.
Tim Strong who has coached kids in several communities organized the effort.
“It’s funny because we’ve known him forever and he’s always been there for us,” said NFA graduate and class president Jareth Tosses.
Strong did it for the first time last year early on in the pandemic with three billboards and a car parade which rode past each one and now he says this public recognition will be an annual effort. This year’s called Project Graduation is sponsored by Sound Community Services.
“They always say you make an impact on the kids you coach but they really make an impact on me and I just really really love giving back to them,” said Strong.
“It just becomes more and more clear that he’s there for us. It’s not just an act. He clearly cares,” said Tosses.
Altogether there are six billboards. Two in New London, two in Norwich, one in Groton, and one in Waterford. They’ll be up for a month.
Two of them advertise the 600 free cheese pizzas which will be given out to graduates on June 21 at the Dominoes in Norwich.
“Last year there it was just Norwich students but this year it’s for anybody. We’re also going to be doing some free haircuts and we’re giving out 20 scholarships as well that day,” said Strong.
“We usually don’t see all these kids,” said NFA graduate Teagan White. “We’re usually going against them in all of our sports so it will be nice to actually talk to them, make friends.”
Something they say they look forward to after another challenging school year.