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American School for the Deaf Holds Commencement in West Hartford

American School for the Deaf graduating class, June 12, 2023. Courtesy photo

ASD celebrated its 206th commencement on June 12, 2023.


The American School for the Deaf (ASD) held its 206th Commencement ceremony this past Monday evening, June 12. Nine graduates, along with families, friends, teachers and staff, gathered to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2023.

Although small, this group of nine proved to be quite accomplished. As board president Jon Rubin noted in his Board Welcome, “You may be a small graduating class in numbers, but you’re one of the most impressive graduating classes we’ve had here at ASD … amongst you we have robotics competition champions, award-winning artists, skilled athletes, campus leaders, mentors, and good friends.”

Rubin also encouraged the graduates to find and embrace their passions, work hard to overcome challenges, continue to be respectful of others and to believe in themselves. He concluded his remarks by telling the class to always remember the words inscribed in their yearbook, “We Belong Here.”

After the Board Welcome, Executive Director Jeff Bravin gave his remarks, further emphasizing the impressive nature of this group of graduates. Some of the notable highlights he mentioned included traveling to Washington, DC to meet with federal legislators; exhibiting artistic talents in a national juried art contest; and competing in the VEX World Robotics Championships this May in Texas where ASD students were one of only three deaf teams competing against over 800 teams from around the world.

Next were messages from two graduates – the Student Welcome delivered by Hannah Elezabeth Dunn, followed by Jason Alan William, Jr.’s Student Address. Hannah advised her peers to step out of their comfort zones and embrace new opportunities. She also said, “Remember to always be kind because it costs nothing.” Jason touched on his educational path, what led him to ASD, and how supported he felt once there: “Now l became a part of the Deaf Community and learned how to advocate for myself.”

ASD alumnus Peter Bailey, and current Head of School at Pennsylvania School of the Deaf, was the Commencement Speaker. As a graduate from 40 years ago, he shared his memories and encouraged the class of 2023 to give back with this twist on a famous JFK quote, “Ask not what ASD can do for you, but what you can do for ASD.”

The ceremony continued with the awarding of the Monte Scholarship (Jason Williams), the presentation of awards and diplomas, and the Executive Director’s Awards given to Stephanie Bryant, Jason Williams, Hayder Alrashid, and Worth Seeley, Jr. The evening culminated with the procession of the new graduates, encouraged by the words of Jeff Bravin, who told them “… go out and show the world the many ways you are … ALL ways able!”

ASD Class of 2023: Hayder Aamel Hussein Alrashid (New Haven, CT), Nicolle Badillo (Waterbury, CT), Stephanie Anne Bryant (New Milford, CT), Hannah Elezabeth Dunn (Ashford, CT), Raul Jalen Garcia (Middletown, CT), Ian David O’Connell (Waterbury, CT), Worth Leon Seeley, Jr. (Bridgeport, CT), Jason Alan Williams, Jr. (Bridgeport, CT), Stanley Joseph Ziemba, Jr. (Syracuse, NY).

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