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Conard Class of 2017 Told to Focus on the ‘Pursuit’

From left: Andy Le, Vinh Kha Le, Shannon Ledwith, and Michael Lee have just moved their tassels from right to left, officially bedoming graduates. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford’s Conard High School held its 60th commencement ceremony Thursday night on the school’s baseball field, celebrating the graduation of 378 students.

By Ronni Newton

When Conard Principal Julio Duarte welcomed the Class of 2017 at freshman orientation on August 27, 2013, it was also his first real day as principal of the West Hartford school, and on June 15, 2017, when he bid those students goodbye, he thanked them for not only continuing Conard’s excellent reputation but making the school an even better place.

On a picture perfect afternoon nearly four years later, as those same students were about to become new graduates, Duarte gave them some words of advice – the same instructions he had given his own young son at the start of preschool: Work hard. Have fun. Listen to your teacher.

“The truth is that there are no shortcuts to success,” Duarte said. However, having fun is also critical to achieving your goals and enjoying life, he said.

“Listen to your teacher” was meant more literally for his son Tyler, Duarte said, but for the new graduates it means they should listen to their inner voice and focus on “what the person in the mirror thinks.”

“Be proud of the person you are,” Duarte said.

Social studies teacher Steven Bassi was selected by the class as the faculty speaker. He said he based his speech on the pursuit of happiness, but with a focus on the “pursuit,” rather than the happiness.

Expect a struggle, he said, because it’s a necessary part of growth. “But you need to be the one at the steering wheel,” Bassi said.

“Understand the pursuit is a process and not a competition … As you choose what makes you happy you’re not in a competition. Happiness is one of the few things in the world that is not finite,” Bassi said.

He told the new graduates that what will come to define each of them is how they conduct themselves as they move forward in their “pursuit,” and that they should not do it with blinders on – and should do it with integrity.

“Ask yourself, are you blazing a path?” said Bassi.

Class President Lizzie Quinn welcomed and congratulated her classmates. “I’m proud to call all of you my friends … I’m going to miss you,” she said, urging everyone to keep working hard and keep smiling.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Andrew Morrow, whose son Caleb Morrow is a member of the Class of 2017, represented the administration, but he spoke as a parent.

“We’re incredibly proud of you and your accomplishments,” Morrow said, and at the same time parents are scared of letting go.

Parents are also sad, he said, “because we remember that first day of kindergarten.”

Carol Blanks had the honor of representing the Board of Education at Conard’s commencement, and she also had a close connection to the class which included her twin daughters Cynthia and Kaye Paddyfote.

“This is your first major milestone. May are sitting in your seats and can’t believe this is happening and many of your parents can’t either,” Blanks said.

Life is like an amazing race, she said. “Control your journey and take in all of the wonderful experiences along the way … Today you are all winners and your diplomas are your awards,” said Blanks.

Senior members of Conard’s choir provided musical interludes, and two student speakers also addressed the Class of 2017.

“In the world we live in success is self-defined,” Emmanuel Adelani said, urging his classmates to work hard and urging parents to trust that their children have the skills they need and should be allowed to make their own mistakes.

Adelani said that Conard is a very special place. “As eager as some of us are to move forward and never look back, don’t ever forget your roots as a Chieftain,” he said.

Andre Lavado Costa told his classmates that they shouldn’t be afraid to leave home and try new things.

Although there are plenty of opportunities at Conard, it can’t compare to the choices of classes at college which “like the menu at Cheesecake Factory – it’s huge.”

Costa said that in the future the number of AP classes someone took or their standardized test scores won’t be what’s important. “In the end it’s the most positive experiences that we remember,” he said.

Tassels were moved from right to left, and mortar boards – many of which were decorated with the logos of colleges the students will attend in the fall – were tossed in the air, as Conard’s newest alumni processed out to meet family and friends, and their futures.

“It could not be a more perfect day,” said Jane LeFante, whose son Sam will attend Wesleyan University in the fall. She said she appreciated that everything about West Hartford Public Schools showcases the talents of the students, even the recorded jazz band music that played before the ceremony began.

Sharon Bruce’s second child, Fintan, is headed to Central Connecticut State University in the fall, and plans to be a teacher. He broke a bone in his foot right before prom, and wore a walking boot as he crossed the stage to get his diploma.

Before the ceremony Bruce said she was very excited, but when asked if she had shed any tears, she replied, ” I’ve already been doing that all day.”

A complete list of graduates from the Conard High School Class of 2017, provided by Conard, follows the photos.

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Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Principal Julio Duarte leads the procession as the Conard High School Class of 2017 Commencement begins. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Principal Julio Duarte. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Dr. Andrew Morrow. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Board of Education member Carol Blanks. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Social Studies teacher Steve Bassi was the faculty speaker. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student speaker Emmanuel Adelani. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student speaker Andre Lavado Costa/ Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ryan Cova. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emily Cullina. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Brendan D’Arcy. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Caitlin Dorsey. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ryan DeLutrie.Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emma Dowd. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Maya Feigenbaum. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

John Gibbons, Gwen Geisler. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Will Jackson. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Anuragi Khadka, Leah Kelly, Ava Karp. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lucien Mark. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Clare McCrudden. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Charlie Murray. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emma Oriol. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kevin Puleo and Lizzie Quinn. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The last three to graduate from Conard, from left: Jake Yearsley, Sami Lama, and Ronglin Zhang. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Liv Starr, Haley Guidotti, Maya Feigenbaum, and Faith Haverty. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Manal Tanveer. Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 15, 2017. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Class of 2017:

Eliana Ava Acevedo

Emmanuel Olaoluwaonipekun Tola Adelani

Jonathan Reynel Aguilera

William Walling Allen

Nicholas Bernard Alvarez

Kaycee Alanna Ames

Michelle Mary Angeles

Adrian A. Ardon

Rimsha Asif

Asim Atreya

Aswin Atreya

Giselle Audain

Hannah Louise Avena

Mia Yuan Bagnall

Justin Dominic Baker

Hector B. Balarezo

Calé Jonathan Barlow

Patrick Liam Baron

Hugo Pol Barrillon

Shaela Breann Barry

Matthew Foley Batayte

Bergen Cheyenne Battiston

Gary Saevon Battle

Julia Jane Bazzano

Danielle Regina Beaumier

Hannah Marie Beazoglou

David Allen Bekele

Viviana Ayalis Belen

Samuel Carlo Benet

Abagail Marie Bermudez

Stephen Matthew Bintz

Harrison James Bissonnette

Josiah Eamon Blackwell-Lipkind

Katherine Mary Blaine

Emily H. Blinder

Nicholas K. Blue

Tiffany Ivonna Bobo

Eric Joseph Boccaccio

Julie Bouchot

Kyron Donnell Bridges

Andrew William Brown

Ayannah Olivia Brown

Fintan Heslin Bruce

Destiny Amorette Brucelis

Adrian Daniel Budhu

Zoe Helen Buntz

Sean Padraig Burke

Emily Frances Burnett

Alexandra Lee Burns

Kevin M. Busey

Xavier Michael Bustamante

Ronald Huayna Cabello Jr.

Miriam Alexandra Callahan

Anevay Constantina Callas

Madison Jean Carr

David James Carrasquillo Jr.

Jonathan Hector Carrasquillo

Andrew Michael Carson

Monet Noelle Carter

Jessica Elizabeth Celella

Joseph Jackson Celio

Raminder Chaddha

Natasha Kathryn Chandler

Yassmine Chefchaouni

Kevin Y. Chen

Lindsey Michelle Chen

Josiah Justin Chery

Michaela Antoinette Christie

Brooks Herbert Clement

Lauren Hunter Cohen

Nathalie May Monique Colombo

Damian Comulada

Liam James Connelly

Brendan Edward Connors

Jacob Matthew Conran

Branden Jay Cooper Jr.

Tyler Powell Brian Correira

Luis Anibal Cosme

Andre Lavado Costa

Aiden Paul Costello

Thomas Patrick Costello

Ryan Anthony Cova

David Elijah Cruz

Franklin Josue Cruz

Emily Hope Cullina

Quinton Charles Curry

Kaylee Nicole D’Amato

Elizabeth Anne D’Andrea

Brendan Garibaldi D’Arcy

Manuel Da Luz Moscardo De Souza

Daniel Martins DaCunha

Cameron Leo Daniel

Ruby Julien Brown Dann

Milena Maho Danzi

Beverly Regina DaRocha

Daniel Nathan Dashefsky

Vanessa Shelby Davis

Katherine Devi Day

Roxanne M. DeJesus

Jorge Dominic Delgado Jr.

Ryan Joseph DeLutrie

Tatiana Shateese Dennis

Myla Paige Denson

Blake Linden Deresienski

Joshua Thomas Derosiers

Hailey Elizabeth DiCicco

Rosa-Maria Diez

Mickayla Allan Diffley

Claudia Laura-Maria Dijmarescu

Matthew James Dill

Seyum Abebe Dires

Tony Victor DiTaranto

Richie Hoang Do

Yubo Dong

Tyler Hyun James Donoghue

Tyler Cody Dorfman

Caitlin Grace Dorsey

Liam Andrew Douglass

Emma Louise Dowd

Nora May Dynowski

Micaela Rena Eckett

Adam John Eikleberry

Alexander V.P. Emanuelson

Darci Marie Emonds

Lamisa Fairooz

Maya Jane Feigenbaum

Michael Francis Fernandez

Micah Shyheim Findley

Edwin Henry Fisher IV

Declan James Flaherty

Monifah Nakilia Danielle Fletcher

Alexander James Floyd

Bridget Anne Foley-Johnson

Dillon Jack Forstberg

Mia Carly Fox

Joan Maria Franco

Kevin Franco

Dominic Manuel Fuentes

Nathan Luis Garcia

Gwendolyn Barron Geisler

John Martin Gibbons

Allison Mary Gilson

Adam Henry Giroux

Sarah Marie Gockel

Dallas Jacob Goncalves

Sula Ruth Gordon

Carly Lynn Gorman

Samantha Francesca Grande

Virginia Mary Grant

Jordana Merlot Fleming Graveley

Jaylah Turhea Green

Brianna Nicole Grindley

Haley Alizabeth Guidotti

Mugdha Harshita Gurram

Patrick James Gustafson

Harper Louise Guthrie

Gabrielle Ann Halsey

Bryce Fallon Halter

Gretchen Lore-Anne Hambrecht

Mitchell William Handberry

Grace Katherine Hardesty

Adán Arabia Harrison

Elle Nicole Hartshorn

Faith McDonough Haverty

Owen Roelof Hendriks

Chloe Boyle Henninger

Marlon Boyle Henninger

Elijah John Hollens

Dawneshia Elizabeth Hutchinson

William Richard Vincent Jackson

Nicole Jaszczolt

Anastasia Jaworski

Javier Jerez

Mycah Bene Johnson

Syed Jawad Kaleem

Olivia Rose Kane

Ava Ruth Karp

Leah Wyman Kelly

Anuragi Khadka

Alexander Khan

Deborah Doyeon Kim

Henry Owen Kneidel

Trevor Jacob Kowal

Alexander Biesiada Krason

William Ford Krebsbach

Melina Giraldo Kritzman

Caitlyn Julia Krueger

Lauren Elizabeth Kumpa

Timothy Kent Kyle

Olivia Drew LaCasse

Elizabeth McKinley Ladd

Jonathan Edward Lagoy

Kenny T.P. Lambert

Jacob Robert LaRosa

Andy Le

Vinh Kha Le

Shannon Flynn Ledwith

Michael Albert Lee

Samuel Gaetano Lefante

Cecil Lamont Lester

Nicholas Taylor Levere

Nathaniel Ryan Licht

Roger Vincent Lin

Shu Lin

Anna Liu

Connie Liu

Matthew Paul Lombard

Mary Clare Looney

Jose Orlando Lopez

Raymond Lu

Charles Oliver Lucyk

Benjamin Anthony Lumbruno

Michael J. Mack

Keavy Maeve Carolina MacKenzie

Claire Madsen-Bibeau

Rebecca Lynn Maher

Delaney Ashonti Maldonado

Tatianna Alize Maldonado

Aidan William Maloney

Adam Malugen

Lucian Nefse Mark

Trevor Dylan Marsh

Vivia Kathryn Marshall

Cheyenne A. Marshall-Delude

Christine F. Martin

Sean Kenneth Marzik

Antonio Robert Masse

Merin Mary Mathews

Michael Leo Mathews

Allyson Olivia McCabe

Vanessa Ofelia McCabe

Molly Elizabeth McCluskey

Clare Margaret McCrudden

Rishai Elizabeth McDermott

Melissa Victoria McGuinness

Nathan John Medeiros

Margaret Rose Melly

Joshua Havit Mendez

Emily Elizabeth Miller

Alexander Robert Mock-Rossi

Nicholas William Moisei

Abrianne Lucille Mongillo

Kevonice Morgan

Samuel Miller Morgan

Benjamin Robert Morozuk

Joseph Patrick Morrissey

Caleb Andrew Morrow

Francisco Marcelo Munoz Acosta

Charles Erling H. Murray

Margaret Elizabeth Murray

Bianca Nadeau

Hunter Elan Nager

Samuel Richard Nanni

Arnas Naujalis

Xavier Dartagnan Neves

Thomas Edison Newton

Chuong Vu Hoang Nguyen

Julia Thanh Nguyen

Khanhvy Nguyen

Phuong Anh Nguyen

Melissa Marie Nunez

Conor Yancey Nuttall

Declan Gerard O’Brien

Tyler Matthew O’Connor

Brendan Robert O’Meara

Erin MacKenzie O’Meara

Sean Patrick O’Meara

Matthew Peter Occhineri

Darshani Ann Olano

Steven Walter Olechna

Sophia S. Oliveira

Milo Boyd Olson

Ireoluwa Jeremiah Oluwasina

Long Bich On

Emma Louise Oriol

Cynthia Aurielle Paddyfote

Kaye Antoinette Paddyfote

Destiny Shanice Padro

Dayvon Tyrese Parker

Jack Vincent Paulus

Emily Caroline Pavano

William Elyahs Perez

Mollie Elizabeth Petrizzo

Michelle Joanne Pettigrew

Huy Gia Pham

Paris Faith Sayers Phillips

Michael Gabriel Piekarsky

Paige Marie Pierce

Emily Whitfield Piker

Srikeerti-Reddi Pingle

Andrew Joshua Placzek

Zachary Cross Polo

Samuel Gregory Porcello

Marvin Anthony Prados III

Kevin Richard Puleo

Elizabeth Grace Quinn

Olivia Eleanor Racz

Mateo Ricardo Ramirez-Webster

Rebecca Linda Ramos

Spandan Pratik Rath

Connor Raymond Reid

Griffin Thomas Reid

Jeff Remy

Juan Oscar Requenes

Katherine Denise Rivera

Keraly Angeliz Rivera Santiago

Silas Elijah Rivers

Alyssa Kiara Roach

Makayla Amber Robles

Rodrigo Sebastian Robles

Melanie Romina Roca

Barbara Souza Rocha

Erin Katlin Roche

Mariana Tiago Rodrigues

Nathan Alexander Rodrigues

Alysah Marie Rodriguez

Elenis Rodriguez

Nelmarie Lareina Roman

Deyleen Rosario

Jacob Matthew Ryor

Elizabeth Anne Sagers

Amanda Salazar

Moya Aaliyah Sappleton

Romaine Sassou

Zoe Elizabeth Schaefer

Madeline Sara Schwartz

Jackson Kenneth Scigulinsky

Jordan Thomas Scrimgeour

Kailyn Delia Segura

Emily A. Senecal

Carlos Javier Serrano

Cristiano Sgarbi

Elijah Joseph Shapiro-Rios

A’Ishah Lee Silva

Vanessa Figueiredo Simao

Arashdeep Singh

Gurmehar Singh

Naija Aileah Sisco

Dana Marie Sklar

Jonathan Lee Smith

Nina Marie Sone

Dominic J. Sorgio V

Flavio Cesar Sotomayor

Nicole Marie Souza

Autumn Cheyenne Spence

Tatiana Alexcia St. Juste

Olivia Evans Starr

Taylor Andrew Steer

Brandon Cole Steiner

Erika Rosa Steiner

Sebastian Luis Suarez

Manal Tanveer

Serra Tekce

Lucas Francesco Teodoro

Bryant Van Thai

Jason Van Thai

Kenneth Van Thai

Davon Anthony Thomas

Ruth Ran Tian

Elijah Andrez Tisdol-Davila

Edvin Jesus Torres

Jesse Townsend

Ana Hoang Tran

Samantha Tran

Catherine Jamie Trotter

Dylan Noel Turner

Alanna Jeanine Uthgenannt

Ajay Varghese

Sebastian Isaac Venero

Abigail Mary Virgo

Harry Bromley Walker

Yilin Wang

David Joshua Weinstein

Koleman Isaac Werner

Jaeshawn Othneil Wilson

Peter Stafford Wilson

Lennert Windhorst

Mia Angela Yanosy

Jake Schuyler Yearsley

Sami Yonjan Lama

Ronglin Zhang

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