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Conard Class of 2020 Celebrates at Drive-In Graduation 

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School’s Class of 2020 celebrated their 63rd commencement ceremony at the Farmington Polo Grounds. 

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

By Melanie Grados and Dexter McCann. Photos by Hunter Marotto and Ronni Newton

The venue might have been different from years prior, but Conard’s class of 2020 was still able to enjoy an in-person graduation at Farmington’s Polo Grounds on Wednesday. 

Nearly all 360 members of the class of 2020 enjoyed a socially distanced “drive-in commencement,” in which the graduates parked in front of a pop-up stage that displayed all the speakers on a big screen TV. In addition, the speeches were broadcast over the air on 94.5 FM radio and telecast via livestream on Comcast Channel 5/Frontier TV channel 6098 to ensure that all in attendance and at home would feel like they were a part of the ceremony. 

While unusual in comparison to traditional celebrations, the graduates and their families seemed to be enthusiastic about the drive-in commencement, with many honking their horns in lieu of traditional applause for the speakers. 

Senior class president, Kaitlyn Gilson welcomed the class of 2020 with a smile while graciously thanking all those who have contributed to the graduating class. 

Class President Kaitlyn Gilson. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“Thank you for the guidance you have given us and the patience you have shown in teachings us things that we will take with us, as we step into a world of unknowns,” said Gilson. 

Although the graduating class has veered away from a traditional year, Gilson reminded the class of 2020 of the great memories they were able to make through their time at Conard noting sporting events, clubs, performances, proms, and academics as some.

“These events and our memories from the past four years, especially our senior year, are the ones we will hold forever,” she said. 

Following Gilson was Tom Moore, superintendent of West Hartford Public Schools and also the proud father of Fallon Grace Moore, a member of the graduating class. 

Superintendent Tom Moore. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Moore began by reflecting on the tumultuous time brought on by COVID-19, and referenced a famous experiment conducted by the Princeton Seminary to drive home a point: “situations drive our actions,” noting that the current crisis will play a significant role in shaping the men and women of the Conard class of 2020. 

Moore compared current times to the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, which occurred around the time many in the class of 2020 were being born. He drew parallels between the “doubt, fear, and insecurity” the U.S. faced following the attacks, but noted that the country came together during a challenging time, and implored the class of 2020 to do the same.

“You’ve been special. Don’t be one of those people that curses the darkness. Be candles. Be light … be who you know you are because you’ve been that for us for 18 years,” Moore concluded.  

Dr. Lorna Thomas-Farquharson, vice chair of West Hartford’s Board of Education, also had a message for the Class of 2020. 

Board of Education Vice Chair Dr. Lorna Thomas-Farquharson. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Thomas-Farquharson opened by applauding the class’ resilience and perseverance in the face of the chaos brought upon by COVID-19. 

“You’re living through a pandemic, however, your accomplishment is much greater than that. … In spite of living through a moment in history, a moment in her-story, a moment in our-story, a moment that has never been seen before in modern times, you persevered and you made it through!.”

Thomas-Farquarson was quick to remind the audience, however, that another pandemic threatened American society: racism. 

She quoted Aristotle in reminding the graduating class that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” but asserted that America could not truly be whole if it would not acknowledge that Black lives matter and take steps to combat racial injustice. 

“If we don’t recognize and respect black lives, we are not whole as a country. If we are not whole as a country, we cannot claim greatness.”

“Enough is enough,” Thomas-Farquharson said, her words punctuated by car horns honking in support. She concluded with a call to action.

“I dare to see what you can accomplish making history. This is your moment, this your opportunity … claim it!

English teacher Ramona Puchalski-Piretti was selected as this years’ faculty speaker. She began her speech by expressing her pride and admiration for the graduating class 

Faculty speaker Ramona Puchalski-Piretti. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“Many of you suffered painful losses early in life and yet you took that pain and have focused on building a better world. I know you made by world better. You are amazing. I have ‘the future of the world is in this classroom’ stenciled on the wall in my classroom and it has never been more fitting.” 

Puchalski-Piretti continued on by sharing her love for stories and how important it can be for one to discover their own story. She compared these stories to gardens, “which were planted by those who came before us.” 

She encouraged students to discover their own stories, “tend to your garden by putting those critical thinking and research skills to work,” and then to explore and learn about the stories of others. 

Puchalski-Piretti concluded with some parting advice for the graduating seniors: “Take a deep breath and go out and tell your stories. Step back and listen to the stories of the other. Then demand a new story to be written. The full story. Your story.” 

Following Puchalski-Piretti was William Macdonald and Sara Rodonis, the class commencement speakers. 

Student speaker William MacDonald. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Macdonald began his speech by commending the graduating seniors for their ability to overcome a plethora of unforeseen obstacles – which was met with a roar of car horns.

“We have forgone these experiences and memories by gained something many of us may deem as even more important, to become a part of history,” continued Macdonald. 

He reminded the class of the important role they play in history and questioned what will come next. 

“We are graduating into a divided country filled with civil unrest, economic uncertainty, and a pandemic with no clear end in sight. Without a doubt, the world is changing, yet we must not forget our individuality in order to change with it.” 

Macdonald concluded his speech by encouraging his fellow classmates to continue to persevere.  

“Those of you who feel as if they are not heard; don’t be scared to shout louder. Those of you who feel isolated; you are not alone. Those of you who are terrified of change; you will find strength. And lastly, those of you who feel insignificant; we can change the world.” 

Rodonis began the second address to the class by sharing an anecdote from her senior year physics class. Her lab group had been given a slinky for class which ended up getting tangled. Although it was proven difficult, the group worked together to untangle the slinky. 

Student speaker Sara Rodonis. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“Conard, in a way, is like a giant slinky. It’s a little overwhelming and it’s easy to get tangled up but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to fix.” 

Rodonis recalled a freshman year memory in which the Conard principal, Julio Duarte, challenged the incoming freshman to make Conard a better place. She noted how “standing on stage surrounded by the class of 2020 I know that we did not complete Mr.Duarte’s challenge. We surpassed it.” 

In her final words, Rodonis thanked Conard custodians, cafeteria staff, security guards, nurses, administrators, teachers, parents, and her fellow classmates for their hard work and dedication. 

The last to speak before the presentation of the graduates was Conard’s principal, Julio Duarte. He kept his remarks brief and instead chose to use his time to broadcast a video a video on the big screen, which captured memories made by Conard’s class of 2020.

Conard Principal Julio Duarte. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Following that video, each graduate had their name presented over their radio and had their class photos displayed on the screen.

After the final graduate was presented, the class of 2020 celebrated with a deafening chorus of car horn cheers. Then, the graduates exited their cars and turned their tassels, cementing their new status as Conard High School alumni.

Congratulations Conard Class of 2020!

Names of graduates are listed below.

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Principal Julio Duarte. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Hunter Marotto

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Jeff DiCosimo, Premier Portraits Studio

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Jeff DiCosimo, Premier Portraits Studio

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Libby Geisler. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Principal Julio Duarte welcomes graduates. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Assistant Principal Lindsay Tringali. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Superintendent Tom Moore. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Faculty speaker Ramona Puchalski-Piretti. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sara Grady. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student speaker William MacDonald. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Student speaker Sara Rodonis. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard Principal Julio Duarte. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Assistant Principal Jamahl Hines with Board of Education Student Rep. Kenia Ferreira. Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Jeff DiCosimo, Premier Portraits Studio

Conard High School graduation. June 24, 2020. Photo credit: Jeff DiCosimo, Premier Portraits Studio

CONARD HIGH SCHOOL

CLASS OF 2020

 

Jeslie  Abreu
Matthew  Adam
Jeniffer Ariana Agreda Vasquez
Hamad  Ahmad
Yazan  AL Doumani
Yousif Marghany Albur
Samirah Kidada Alexander
Alishba  Ali
Lucinda  Alissi
Christopher Joseph Allen Jr
Yazeed Omer Almazraawy
Zachary David Anaya
George Constantine Andrews
Guillermo Alejandro Antepaz
Abel  Antony
Benjamin Ian Arky
Nolan Maxwell Asadow
Jason Alberto Aviles
Jire Cinque Barlow
Alexander Dean Barnard
Devan Lawlor Barnum
Kate Ann Bell
Mason Gregory Belville
Leonid Georgievich Belyaev
Alexus Daniel Benitez
Aya  Benkoua
Jackson Paul Berrettini
William Rowland Berry
Hayden Thomas Bissonnette
Xavier Sebastian Blackwell-Lipkind
Alexis Rickless Blinder
Malazya Moraye Blue
John Alexander  Bonee
Nathin Alexander Bones
Wagner Fragassi Boucault
Patricia Fernand Boulton
Samantha Rose Bowin
Kate MacKenzie Boyd
Giovanna de Sousa Braga
John Patrick Brennan
Brian William Brewer
Silas Shane Bridges
Amelia Jane Brightly
Jason Joseph Bruzon
Brian Joseph Burke
Nathan Jose Caez
James Hewitt Calvert
Joao Vitor  Campos Alves
Guilherme  Cardoso de Freitas
William James Carson
Josiah Gabriel Carter
Renee Belinda Chamberland
Jonah Mathai Chanthavong
Darren  Chen
Natalie Ann Chernysh
Gabriel Elijah Chery
McKenna Elise Healy Cheverier
Samuel Luis Chozick
Ariana Elizabeth Claudio
Benjamin William Cohen
Zachary Morris Cohen
Jadiel Angel Concepcion
Sophia Irene Concepcion
De’Lauren  Coombs
Brian George da Costa Pinto
John Clark Dalton
Justin Minh Dam
Thanh Hoang Dao
Cameron Hunter Davidson
Rachel Rebekah Rae Davis
Trude Elizabeth Davis
Emily Rae Delaney
Matthew Lawrence DeLutrie
Nicholle D Denault
Christa Michaela DeStefano
Cate Rebecca Di Giacomo
Jasmine Renee DiGenti
Ella Caroline DiPippo
Sophonias  Dires
Sean E Dombrofski
Haroun B Dridi
Falyne Colleen Driver
Eileen Katherine Droney
Aubrey Aliguyon Dulnuan
Matthew G Durham
Carolyn Elizabeth Eddy
Geldon Mohmoud Farah
Ryan Edward Farley
Owen Douglas Fernandez
Hannah Rose Ferolano
Kenia  Ferreira
Aoise Caitlin Fitzgerald
Julian Oakley Flores
Karinna Marie Flores
Aidan Joseph Foley
Jade Yan Fraioli
Samantha Taylor Frigon
John Matthew Gabinelle
Jillian Elizabeth Gallagher
Carla Lorena Garcia Leon
Helen Katherine Garde
Malonee Shanai Garrett
Aarya  Gautam
Elizabeth Barron Geisler
Robert Michael Gerity
Sara Elizabeth Gerity
Yonas Dires Getachew
Khalil Hakim Gilbert- Freymond
Elizabeth Ruth Giles
Kaitlyn Melissa Gilson
Samantha Casey Giuliano
Isabela Marie Glynn
Xavier Robert Goggins
Charlie Scott Goglia
Jonathan Elias Golden
Justin James Goldstein
Nilasia Lee Gomez
Antonio Lamar Gordon
Sara Keefe Grady
Kyshawn Elijah Grant
Jacob Thomas Gregory
Eshe Azizi Griffith
Sean  Guevara
Thao Vy Thuy Ha
Asli Abdullahi Hassan
Max Mynatt Hassan
Maggie Gail Heller
Gabriel Heath Levinso Hernandez
Matthew Gordon Hill
Jonathan Quoc Ho
Johnny Minh Hoang
Madison Lyn Hoang
Thomas John Hosek
Matteo Yale Hunter
Jenna Rachel Hutensky
Edlira  Isufi
Gracie Cho Iwersen
Chrisjohn Malik Jagdat
Mateu  Jaramillo
Mia Katharine Jaworski
Emoni Miya Johnson
Makhi A Johnson
Sarah Wyman Kelly
Brian Falvey Kenna
Carlos A Kerrigan-Mock
Rahul Jung Khadka
Sophia Grace Kim
Taehyun  Kim
Faizah  Kiran
Gavin Thomas Klett
Ashleigh Victoria Kobialka
Sara Harrison Kohl
Jenna Caroline Kopp
Sebastian Patrick Krueger
Jack William Kuhnly
Caroline Linda Kumpa
Emily Kate Kyle
Leana Marie Lao
Brianna Q Le
Samantha Olivia Lee
Alcide  Lemieux IV
Taariq Emmanuel Lewinson
Harrison Hamilton Lewis
James Benjamin Little
Cheyanne Milagros Lopez
Miriam  Lopez Cruz
Joniel  Lopez Ojeda
Madison Paige Lopol
Samuel Bruce Louden
William Charles Macdonald
Hannah Kristine Mack
Christopher Philip Maglio
Devin Thomas Mahoney
Michael Edward Majewski
Carlos Jantae Maldonado Garcia
Gabriel Gill Maldonado
David Martin Malugen
Anthony Michael Mancini
Michael Theodore Mancini
Shonayzya Julie Maragh
Olivia Ann Marcella
Tyler James Marino
Joseph Kelsey Market-Maestre
Daniel Lee Markham
Trey Matthew Martin
Jorge Luis Martinez Diaz
Joshua Bruce Massey
Andrew James Mazzatto
Allyson Taylor McKenna
Nicholas James McKeown
Joshua Lawrence Meehan
Max Yazir Mega
Vanessa Kate Meikle
Zoe Elizabeth Michini
Natalie Dare Miller
Fumio  Minoguchi
Isabella Jade Mocadlo
Yasmin Khadijah Mohamad
Jibriel Fawzy Mohammadu
Rasheem Jamel Montes-Daniels
Connor Patrick Montgomery
Daniel Lewis Monyak
Fallon Grace Moore
Ty Joseph Morales
Demarco Keith Morgan
Jonathan Stewart Morrey
Lindsay Elizabeth Moynihan
Anastasia Mae Mozonski
Reana  Mucka
Andrew Brian Murillo
Jonathan Dean Murphy
Sam Frederick Musto
Alexander  Nadeau
Syed Mohammad M Naqvi
Matthew Alexander Nemergut
Taj-Roi Liam Newman
Helen  Nguyen
Henry  Nguyen
Hieu Thanh Nguyen
Ivy  Nguyen
Justin Dinh Nguyen
Lana  Nguyen
Tanya  Nguyen
Vina  Nguyen
Wilkie  Ni
Veronica Gabrielle Niedmann
Clotilde Maria Noble
Frank Emmanuel Nobou
Aaliyah Lexis Norton
Hollis Katherine O’Connor
Katherine Elisabeth O’Leary
Michael Emmanuel Ocasio
Ava Elizabeth Odlum
Moufira Nicole Ogountola
Oreofeoluwa Eunice Oluwasina
Kayla Nicole Oriola
Victor Manuel Ortiz Jr
Kaliya Elizabeth Ortiz
Saverio Foster Palaia
Kitana Dara Park
Brenden John Parker
Elizabeth Anne Parker
Brahmdeep Singh Parmar
Joshua Augustus Pechenuk
Tatiana Rubi Pelaez
Julian Boas Peres
Benjamin Jurgis Petkaitis
Emma Caroleena Pinckney
Brock August Pizzoferrato
Zoe Nicole Pizzoferrato
Ray Thomas Plocharczyk
Anisha  Pokhrel
Mary Grace Policelli
Jerveil Kwame Prempeh
Brian Thomas Puleo
Huubang Diep Quach
Kaylynn  Quach
Jyojyolung  Rai
Carmen Mariel  Ramirez Parra
Damian Andres Ramos
Corinne  Raphino
Ukase  Raut
Jasmine Delfina Rawls
Melany Abigail Recinos-Vargas
Jorgens  Remy
Ashley Jasmine Requenes
Dylan C Richards
Nathan Pierce Rinaldi
Juan Andres Rivera Velazquez
Nevaeh  Rivera
Renee Star Rivera
Yarissa Enid Rivera
Brian Armando Rivera-Royal
Nicholas  Roberts
Ashanti Shardanee Kintell Robinson
Abigail Marie Rocktaschel
Sara Elizabeth Rodonis
Xaymara  Rodriguez
Samuel William Rothfarb
Saige Elizabeth Rovero
John Mathew Roy
Briana Alize Ruiz
Britney  Salas
Kevin  Salazar
Kelly  Sanichara
Robert Alexander Sarkisian
Talia Catherine Sarkisian
Florence D’avila Sassou
Colin Francis Savage
Nina  Sayarath
Lisa Tam Scanlon
Nancy Thao Scanlon
Alexandra Marie Scheib
Allison Grace Schneider
Madeleine Claire Schott
Nicholas Jacob Segarra
Ceili Nicoll Senft
Devon Elizabeth Shay
Brynn Elise Sherry
Liza  Shrestha
Arsen Gregoriy Shtefan
Isabella  Simoes
Peter James Simplicio
Katherine Elizabeth Simpson
Gurjot  Singh
Karanveer  Singh
Rajvir  Singh
Owen Dean Smith
Lorenzo Blumer Sofarelli
Dhi-Yannix  Soler
Rachel Marie Son
Jonathan Kyle Sorgio
Quinn James Spada
Ethan Angelo Speranza
James Andrew Standish
Tyler Stanley Staron
Nichole Katherine Sutliff
Emma Elisabeth Tapia
Abriana Julia Teodoro
Amy Chantal Then
Jason Michael Thurston Jr
Max Siheng Tian
Abigail Theresa Tonkinson
Lauren Rose Torla
Meghan Elaine Torla
Jack Henry Tousignant
Dyllan James Trafford
Meagan  Truong
Charles Stephen Uthgenannt
Joel  Valentin
Hailie Marie Velez
Zachary Iyahn Vesci-Williams
Marcel Angel Vicente
Alexander Robinson Vietzke
Yaffa Tova Waren
Marika Wanda Weber
Jon Azamat Westfall
Isaiah Maleek Joshua Williams
Todd Jhavon Wilson
Spencer Lee Wimpe
Eli R Wizevich
Larry Sirroy Womack Jr
Anna Elisabeth Wood
Owen Barry Wood
Emma Cantor Wright
Levi Rafi Yelin
Juan Pablo  Yepes
Christina Nicole Yett
Mollie Ann Yezza
Dominic Alijah Zaleski
Alexander Nicholas Zayas
John Matthew Zehr

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Melanie Grados

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