Beyond Nonnewaug: Exploring the Diverse Options for Graduates


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With just four full weeks of school before graduation day, the class of ’23 has a variety of plans for life beyond campus.

Brian Root and Nick Penrosa

WOODBURY — The school year is coming to an end at Nonnewaug High School, and seniors are hard at work getting ready to take the next big step in their lives. From college to trade school to entering the workforce, these young adults are making important decisions that will shape their lives for years to come.

“The challenges that we seniors face is that while trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives in a short amount of time,” said Peyton Sagendorf, an NHS senior. “We also need to consider the financial burden of higher education. Not only that, but what colleges fit with you and what you prefer.”

This is the most common situation students are faced with when it comes to deciding what they want to do after high school. Therefore, teachers encourage students to go to a community college instead for the time being rather than taking a gap year until they determine what they want to pursue.

“I plan on going to Naugatuck Valley [Community] College,” said Niko Tsamos, a senior. “It’s a safe option for those who don’t really know what they want to do but still want to go to college. It’s also one of the more affordable schools.”

“A lot of my friends plan on going to college or going into a trade,” says senior Michael LaFauci. “I think these are good plans because they both hold the potential of becoming a very promising career.”

For students who don’t want to go to college, lots of programs are available for a career in the trades.

“Bristol Tech offers a program for rising seniors to attend. Students have the potential to earn a diploma from NHS and a certificate in a trade from Bristol,” NHS College and Career Resource Center counselor Kathy Green said. “Additionally, Porter and Chester offer an eight-week program this year that allows seniors a chance to learn about the trades they offer. If a student is highly motivated and can find an internship or apprenticeship on their own, we are likely to work with a student to explore that opportunity as well.”

According to a Colorado State University study, 34% of respondents claimed they don’t have a plan after high school. This statistic shows the real struggle that seniors face when time is running out. 

“For students going into college, I would remind them that this is a big transition and transitions take time to acclimate to,” Green said. “I would encourage them to find spaces on campus that resonate with them. The best way to meet your people is to find them doing activities that you love, so seek out clubs and activities related to your interests.”

For students still not sure what to do after high school, the CCRC is available to provide some direction. 

“I would suggest they seek me or their counselor out. There is still time,” Green said. “Maybe we can do a personality inventory or discuss areas of interest or personal strengths. I would suggest they keep making forward progress by doing something like getting a job, enrolling in community college to continue learning or pursuing a trade.”

It’s exciting to think about the future and all the possibilities that come with it, and most seniors here at Nonnewaug are full of mixed emotions as they prepare to graduate high school.