West Hartford’s American School for the Deaf awarded 18 diplomas at its graduation on June 23.
Submitted by Rennie Polk, American School for the Deaf
Under tumultuous skies the American School for the Deaf held its 198th graduation on Tuesday, June 23, but the skies did not hold back the pride 18 seniors shared with the audience that their education at ASD has prepared them for their future.
Glendy Scaletta, one of the class speakers, said “I never dreamed I could be this successful.” Glendy won several awards during the evening, one of which was co-recipient of the Headmaster’s Award, given to two seniors who have demonstrated excellence in their school career. Eddie Andrejko was the other recipient.
Glendy went on to praise the staff at ASD: “I’m happy to have so many supportive staff members. The resources and services that they provide are incredible. The staff is always here for the students. Everyone works hard on their shifts and they never give up. Teaching and learning as well as meeting every student’s needs are very important [to them].”
This year the ceremony included translation to and from English and American Sign Language. Executive Director Jeffrey Bravin, the second deaf leader in the school’s history, said he wants to continue to improve on the school’s tradition of excellence, and “we want the entire region’s deaf and hard of hearing children to have the benefit of an ASD education. We believe that exposing children to a communicatively accessible environment at the earliest possible age results in language development and academic success. We want the American School for the Deaf to be the ‘go to’ place for deaf and hard of hearing children. We know that our nearly 200 years of focused commitment to deaf education will provide these children with the foundation and fundamentals to set goals and achieve them.”
While some of the graduate speakers used sign language, others with cochlear implants spoke, and Bravin said each student is an individual with his or her own communication style. “I could not be more proud of our graduates this evening,” Bravin said.
Class President Lynette Marina Saucier of Bristol said she was born hard of hearing and attended public school for nine years. As she grew older, and her hearing faded, Saucier eventually received cochlear implants and transferred to ASD so she could learn ASL.
“For a long time, I had a very hard time accepting myself as deaf,” Saucier said. “Once I came to this school, learning American Sign Language improved my life and my education. … Having cochlear implants and using ASL gave me confidence as a deaf woman.”
Student speaker Brandon Macisco of Stratford said most will enter the workforce, for which they have been well prepared. “We have learned about advocating for ourselves, for our accommodations and the needs we have in the workforce,” Macisco said. “Our teachers have prepared us for our future. Through hard work, motivation, and persistence we are ready to face and overcome challenges with courage and strength.”
Ivy Velez, ASD Class of 1986, was the commencement speaker and talked about how change, “going to the next chapter in your lives” will be filled with more learning and growth. “Be ready for the challenges and future accomplishments.”