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Conard Class of 2019 Says Farewell with Words of Inspiration, Calls to Leadership, and Reminders to Laugh

John Ledwith waves to his family as he receives his diploma. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Despite a gray day in West Hartford, the Conard graduating class of 2019 was nothing but bright and happy celebrating the years spent together and looking ahead to the future as they go their separate ways.

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Zoe Pierce. Photos by Ronni Newton

For the 62nd Commencement ceremony of West Hartford’s Conard High School, more than 300 students walked across the stage as family, faculty, and friends looked on from seats in the schools’s gym as well as the auditorium, where the ceremony was being live-streamed.

Class President Flore Barrillon began the ceremony by thanking the faculty, administration, parents and guardians for giving the graduates confidence and support throughout their time as students.

“Today is the day. Our continuous hard work and eagerness for success is moments away from paying off. Walking across this stage and accepting this diploma marks the moment we take the knowledge and experiences we’ve gained from Conard and pave the way for ourselves, wherever we may go,” said Barrillon.

Conard Principal Julio Duarte spoke about the class’ passion and leadership, reflecting on their accomplishments over the years through programs like Unified Theatre, art shows, and the theater program’s production of “Singing in the Rain.”

“You, you alone have a real opportunity to make the world a better place,” said Duarte. “You are truly an amazing class and I will genuinely miss you.”

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Paul Vicinus spoke about his time as a in the military in Afghanistan, as a teacher and as a parent, experiencing life and loss. He shared with the graduates seven lessons, seven words of wisdom: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

“You’ve made a difference in this school, in this community, and in each other,” said Vicinus.

Before the Senior Choir sang their final song together, “Time of Your Life” by Green Day, Board of Education representative David Pauluk reminded them to “take a moment and soak it all in.”

“Remember that you have graduated from one of the top high schools in the state,” said Pauluk. “It didn’t get that way without you guys.”

Student-elected speaker David Dippolino, who is retiring this year from Conard where he was a math teacher, captivated the audience with a powerful speech reflecting the responsibility the students have to inspire, be passionate, and “find their outrage.”

“I want you to find what you hate and make it better,” said Dippolino. “Find your outrage and do something to change it.”

Dippolino advised students not to “lose your compassion for one another.” He told students to use technology to their advantage to make connections, citing the 2017 Parkland shooting which displayed the generation’s ability to come together country-wide.

He also warned students that “likes” and “reactions” on social media are not activism, and they “need to be in it for the long run” if they care about something and want to make a difference.

“Some progress did occur,” said Dippolino, referring to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. “But clearly not enough, especially with racial inequalities.”

In a speech that discussed issues of race, gender, economics and politics, Dippolino moved the graduating class and surrounding crowd to a standing ovation.

“I could not have chosen a better class to say goodbye with,” said Dippolino, who is also the person to whom the graduating class dedicated their yearbook.

Student speakers Miles Brown and Julia Marcella both mentioned letters the graduates who went to elementary school in West Hartford had received a few weeks ago – letters from their fifth-grade selves.

While they said their letters mostly consisted of material you would expect from a fifth-grader – for Brown that meant a goal of meeting Jennifer Lawrence and for Marcella inside jokes she no longer understand – both also said there were parts that stuck with them.

“Look I’m not saying we should settle, we should go for it, take risks. But even if all else fails – even if we never meet Jennifer Lawrence – life will work out OK,” said Brown. “Whatever happens, we’ll still have a shot at what the last goal was that I had on my fifth-grade letter. Down at the bottom of the page, No. 20: Live a great, long life.”

“I want to remind you not to take yourselves too seriously,” Marcella said. “Despite the different lifestyles we will pursue after high school, there is one thing we will have in common for the rest of our lives: we’re Conard High School graduates.”

As he waited with his fellow members of the Class of 2019 prior to the ceremony, Andy Tran, who will be attending Colombia in the fall, highlighted the students and families in Conard who are immigrants, saying: “I just want to say to all the immigrant kids out there, second, first generation kids, you know a lot of your parents risked their lives to come over here. You know, they’re waiting for the day that you can graduate high school, and it’s so great because I just feel like the American Dream right now.”

The night was filled with applause for the graduates, but one of the most enthusiastic displays – a standing ovation – came as Zeke McDonough rolled his wheelchair across the stage. McDonough made a lasting impact on the students and faculty at Conard as well as programs such as Unified Theatre.

As the graduates moved their tassels from right to left they became Conard alumni, and when they turned to be greeted with applause from the crowd and tossed their caps into the air they were no longer the same children they were when they arrived at the school, but rather adults ready to face the world and whatever they encounter in it.  

As Dippolino said in his farewell to the Conard Class of 2019, “Now go out and make a difference.”

A complete list of graduates follows the photographs below.

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Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Senior Choir. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Emcee, Assistant Principal Lindsay Tringali. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Class President Flore Barrillon. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Principal Julio Duarte. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Assistant Superintendent Paul Vicinus. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Senior Choir performs ‘Time of Your Life.’ Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Faculty speaker Dave Dippolino. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

New grad Matthew Vitelli poses with his parents after graduation. The ‘tusks’ on his mortarboard represent his future college, the Amherst Mammoths. Conard High School graduation. June 13, 2019. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School – Class of 2019

Kaleigh Marie-ouelett Agosto

Aysha A Akhter

Micaela Braz Aleixo

Kayla Nichol Alexandre

Luis Andres Alicea

Marisa Ciera Allen

Alexander Nicholas Almazan

Jason Manuel Alvarado

Jaza Dayang Amchok

Timothy Antonio Andrews

Aaron Jose Aparicio

Andres Sebastian Ariza

Jewel Christine Armstrong

Millard Alton Arnold V

Erin Noelle Arruda

Alexandra Nicole Arteaga

Deerick Louis Arzola-Torres

Finn Thomas Ashworth

Alayza Audain

Augustine Edward Bacon

Isabella Mary Bailey

Samuel Jasper Baker

George Leo Baldwin

Steven Baquero

Maya Kenausis Barlow

Reed Christian Baronian

Flore Marie Barrillon

Hannah Xiao Qiu Barry

Brendan Lino Battiston

Victoria Elizabeth Beaton

Christie Anna Beaumier

Matthew John Beazoglou

Liberty Regina Bednarz

Walker Edward Benet

Daniel Michael Bernard

Lauren Brittany Bettencourt

Nandini Bhatt

Shabit Bhatt

Shamus Lee Biggs

Molly Ann Miron Binder

Emily Nicole Birnbaum

Kobe Julie Ann Blue

Brianna Marie Bobo

Colin Michael Boccaccio

Alexander Clayton Boehm

Sophie Victoria Boisvert

Elena Marie Borio

Ryan Vincent Bottass

Kyle James Bridgman

Paloma Rose Brites

Eleanor Anne Brown

Miles Iapoce Brown

Eloise Bartow Bryggare

Shawn J Budhu

Tyler J Budhu

Kelly Bui

Kathleen Dalton Burgdorff

Martin Edward Burke II

Thomas James Burnett

Khalil Javon Burney

Nolan Enzo Butler

Alexandra Sabina Buyak

Ashley Liana Caceres

Alexander Maximilian Callahan

Grace Maddi Cancian

Ariel Finan Roditi Caplan

Bryant Patrick Caron

Shane Peter Carr

Phoebe Elizabeth Carter

Noah Jacob Case

Ines Siti  Castillo

Luis Angel Castro Jr

Isabella Mary Celio

Jacob James Cersosimo

Ava Gabrielle Chabot

James Francis Cheverier

James Harry Christ

Michaela Elizabeth Clark

Raven A.V. Clarke

Grace Marie Coburn

Madelyn Grace Coco

Madison Joy Cohen

Lenworth Roy Cole Jr

Auston Ross Comrie

Michael Austin Costello

Arthur Martin Louis Couch

Hannah Elizabeth Crawford

Grace Erin Cronin

Brenden Xavier Crumbie

Marcos Antonio Cruz

Anna Grace Czajkowski

Joshua Minh Dam

Angelina Divine Grace Davis

Nicolas Tadeu De Campos Paula

Bryson Augustas Denby

Carl Jerome Denson

Ruth Abebe Dires

Errol Lewis Dixon Jr

Michael Kristopher Driscoll

Margaret Catherine Drummey

Mason Tyler Dupont

David Henry Dynowski

Liana Rose Eisler

Grace Danielle Evans

Grace Elizabeth Faenza

JamesMichael Falvey

Dylan Seamus Farrell

Pablo Antonio Figueroa

Cailin Marie Flaherty

Heather Anne Flannery

Noel Ubaldo Flores

Noellie Flores

Justin Peter Furze

Madeline Teresa Gallinoto

Jayden Nicole Garcia

Cristina Netchanok Gaudio

Oluwatoyin Rebecca Gbadebo

Evelyn Rose Gearty

Rusalraj  Ghimire

William Francis Gibbons

Jake Edward Gionfriddo

Benjamin Luke Giroux

William Joseph Gomes

Alec Olivo Gonzalez

Nathaniel Gonzalez

Josuel Alexis Gonzalez-Maldonado

Elijah Solomon Gordon

Micah Georg-Ann Gordon

Lindley Dinan Gorman

Sarah Elizabeth Gotthelf

Megan Elizabeth Goulet

Charlotte Anne Grens

Isabella Soleil Guajardo-Moore

Angel Luis Guevara

Neil Philip Gustafson

Jeremy Ekow Jose Hanson

Julia Leigh Hardesty

Tamara Chaz Harris-Frederick

Gabriella Hope Hart

Madino Abdullahi Hassan

Fallon Elisabeth Hemingway

Shea Langham Henderson

Eric Sergey Himmelstein

Maire Paquette Hollertz

David Huynh

Hamza Irshad

Janelle Mcclay Isaacs

Claire Elise Ittleson

Lataja Jahod Jackson

Arjun Jagjivan

Chelsea Gleave Jansing

Jessica Althamease Jaynes

Colebrooke James Johnson

Cassidy Arin Jones

Morgan Rose Jones

Harmanpreet Kaur

Aaron Jefferson Khan

Sakusal          Khatiwada

Audrey Alyce Kim

Ian Teneyck Kimberly

Benjamin Owen Kirby

Grace Kathryn Kneidel

Devin Steven Krisst

Liam Michael Lacroix

Andrew Joseph Lagoy

Kadajah Taliyah Laidley

Matthew William Langevin

Madison Jenna Langweil

Sophia Louise Lankin

Cameron Kane Larkin

Jeffrey Paul LaRosa

Jesse Lau

Emma Yongshuai Lauer

Erick Chau Le

Jimmy Le

Maivi Nguyen Le

Quynh My Le

John Carhart Ledwith

Addi Lynn Leitzke

Keeshawn Zuberi Lewinson

Riley Campbell Liburd

Timothy Christopher Licht

Annika Kristina Ligon

Ricky Liu

Daniel Alexander Loftus

Kaylan Brianne Lopez

Kelsey Sharinel Lopez

Nicole Lopez

Rey Janiel Lopez

Kayla Madison Louro

Kiara Emma Lozada

Isabel Grace Lubin

Natalia Lugo

Iris Madsen-Bibeau

Patrick James Mahon

Asjha Tashna-Gaye Malcolm

Rojita Malla

Dylan Kealoha Mallach

Dylan Patrick Mallinson

Lauren Jane Manning

Julia Elizabeth Marcella

Ethan James Marshall

Jeremy Dynale Martin

Jonathan James Martin

Efrain Martinez III

Daniel Hassen Martinez Rodrigo

Lauren Elizabeth Massaro

Keegan Buckley May

Abigail Catalina Mayuri

Andres Antonio Mayuri

Ethan Quinn McCabe

Ciara Elizabeth McCann

Lydia Eleanor McCracken

Emily Keehn McDill

Ezekiel Rodriguez McDonough

John Miller McGovern

Nora Marie McGowan

Connor Joseph McKeown

Stephen James McNally

Jack Morgan Mello

Danielle Lauren Miller

Stephen David Mills

Chase Alexander Mitchell

Zoreena Mohamed

Fernando Monjardin-Quintero

Cristian Manuel Montanez

Bradley Alexander Morales

Mark Morales

Allison Paige Morhardt

Meghann Lily Morhardt

Kori Chad Morrell

Tariq Ziad Moumne

Rodrigo Antonio Munoz Acosta

Jamey Alexander Nadeau

Eli Walter Nanni

Izabella Christina Natchev

Julia Meishen Neal

Vincent Lloyd Nemergut

Cindy Nguyen

Sheila Thi Nguyen

Tram Thi Nguyen

Yen Nguyen

Keegan Weaver Nuttall

Paige Benedict O’Connell-Bach

Derek Robert O’Connor

Jacob Anthony Oddo

Cassidy Lynn Olechna

Nour Emad Osman

Gabriel Jose Otero

September Anabel Outlaw

Sophie-Isabel Bobes Overstreet

Anthony Ryutaro Palace

Nathali Nicolle Paredes

Cheyanne Nikita Olivia Parker

Lucas Monroe Pauluk

Brady Daniel Paulus

Michael Steven Pechenuk

Jonathan A Perez

Ganesh Donald Petterson

Thu Tu Minh Pham

Victoria C Pham

Michael McGrath Phillips

Arianna Mae Pineda

Julia Cote Prescott

Abigail Eleanor Quinn

Michael Quiros Jr

Redwan Rahman

Alba Maria Ramos

Ayanna Regina Ramos

David Thomas Regan

Reiner De-Shawn Reichenberger

Jelisa Marie Resto

Joel David Reuning-Scherer

Elena Suzanne Rezende

Nathalie Rivera

Dominique Renee Robinson

Christopher Jayden Rodriguez

Gilberto Rodriguez

Julian Enrique Romero

Brandon Alexander Roy

Colby James Roy

Max Aiden Ryan

Ian Donald Sagers

Anthony Salazar

Sarah Rose Sampt

Nicole Sanchez

Alexsei Jose Santana

Daniel Armando Santana-Gonzalez

Anna Elizabeth Santoro

Isabella Florence Santos

Nicolas Mason Santos

Alexis Noreen Sargent

Owen Daniel Scigulinsky

John Demetri Scrimgeour

Richard Lall Seecharran

Michaela Rose Seville

Kate Olivia Shaffer

Sayad Ahmad Shams

Kenneth Lee Shazel Jr

Nora Jane Sherrill

Aianna Siembab

Gurpreet Singh

Cameron Constance Slocum

Caroline Elizabeth Smith

Ethan Gregory Smith

Katia Ferreira Soares

Matthew Ryan Sorgio

Helkin Felipe Sosa

Brandon Marino Souza

Christian Clevens St. Juste

Danielle Thanh Sterling

Alexandra Isabelle Stiber

Dylan Roger Stricklett

Katrina Elaine Stumpf

Elijah Gregory Suarez

Gabriel Manuel Suarez

Peter Joel Sweeney III

Joanna Szeto

Matthew Jared Szkoda

Noah Andrew Theriault

Mairead Johanna Thiery

Timothy Christian Tobin

Emily Huiya Tong

Andy Tran

Allison Rose Turner

Kara Ellen Turner

Gabriella Jo Urso

Elisha Cristina Valle

Mario Garret Vasquez Esposito

Makaila Denee Vasquez-Steele

Zar Sherrod Vaughn

Yadiel Vazquez Lorenzana

Dailisse Marie Vega

Jaylen Alex Vega

Natisha Liz Vega

Yeraldy Villasana

Matthew James Vitelli

Mario Paul Volpe

Desiree Maranda Walker

Bridget Elizabeth Walsh

Jenesis Jazlynn-Nicole Ward

Jaharad Morris Weston

Nathan Carter White

Thomas Manning Wilson

Imani Alexis Womack

Dylan Joseph Woods

Thomas Jesus Woods

Auden Thomas Woolfson

Daiquan Latrell World

Jordan Xavier Lamont Wynn

Xiao Xin Xie

Kevin Yang

Julia Elizabeth Yanosy

Fely Adrienne Yigle-Kaljob

Erik Glenn Youngstrom

Nathan Morris Yousman

Alexis Nickole Zayas

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Zoe Pierce

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