Hall High Class of 2017 Instructed to ‘Stay Curious’

West Hartford’s Hall High School graduated 378 students on Thursday, June 15.

By Gillian Hixson

“So listen Class of 2017, I think it’s time we have a talk,” Anthony Wasley, science teacher at William H. Hall High School, told the graduates, “I think it’s time you see other teachers.”

“It’s not you, it’s me,” Wasley added, “We can still be friends.”

Though Wasley’s classic break-up comments were meant to be funny, 378 Hall High seniors said goodbye for real to Hall High School on Thursday evening. Though many graduates’ caps were decorated with a logo of their future college or university, each wore the same royal blue gown, a symbol of their shared accomplishment.

Introducing Hall’s Class of 2017, Principal Dan Zittoun applauded the graduates’ ability to “put the group before yourself.” This ability became clear as gusts of wind blew off countless graduates’ white stoles off their shoulders and their peers grabbed, caught, and returned them.

Though the day was a milestone for the graduates, Principal Zittoun explained it was a milestone for him as well. Since Zittoun started as principal for Hall the summer of 2013, this class of graduates was the first group he oversaw all four years.

He, too, came to Hall in 2013, wondering “If the people would be nice” and “What the ‘H’ in William H. Hall High School stands for.” Like the graduates who sat before him, Zittoun’s nerves were eventually calmed.

“The students and staff were definitely nice, and the ‘H’ stands for Hutchins,” Zittoun said. Like the sea of graduates sitting before him, Zittoun celebrated.

The Class of 2017 indeed accomplished a lot in their final year. Zittoun mentioned only a few of many: the return of the Homecoming Dance, the change of the school’s mascot, winning a radio show promotion and having pop star Daya perform at school, Human Rights Day, a State Championship win in Indoor Track and Field, and the continuance of last year’s decision for all graduates to wear blue gowns.

“Take a moment to let that sink in,” Zittoun urged the graduates, “It’s absolutely amazing.”

But, it is not only the big accomplishments that matter, Zittoun added. “The most impressive is what you accomplished every day for the past four years … You put the group before yourself,” he said, “Our generation could take a lesson from the Class of 2017.”

“My job’s been easy,” Zittoun said, “All I had to do is send a few tweets and get out of the way.”

Tom Moore, superintendent of West Hartford Public Schools, continued this line of thinking, stating, “If West Hartford Public Schools was a business that would make you [the graduates] a product. And business is good.”

Moore implored the graduates to surround themselves with those people who “make us stand a little taller, laugh a little louder, smile a little wider, work a little harder, and think a little bit deeper.”

After Moore’s remarks, Dr. Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, Chairperson of the Board of Education, offered three brief stories about “transition and translation.” The son of a Mexican immigrant, Overmyer-Velazquez knew he wanted to keep the Spanish language a main part of his life and incorporate Spanish into the lives of his children.

He described the frustration he faced trying to translate “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” into Spanish on the fly while reading to his child; the vulnerability he felt while sitting at a table of completely foreign food in Jordan; and his work translating between Carlos, a man at a detention center, and his lawyer. In closing, Overmyer-Velazquez urged the Class of 2017 “to serve others through solidarity.”

Zittoun then invited the senior members of Chorale to come up to the stage, where they sang “Standing By.” Each singer got his or her own solo, a chance to sing one last time as a Hall High student.

Student speaker Ethan Hixson gave a succinct yet animated speech about his personal experience at Hall. “I learned how to throw a frisbee 3/4 the length of a football field. Yes, that has nothing to do with school but if I hadn’t come here I would never have learned how,” Hixson said.

He congratulated his class on their accomplishment and told them not to worry. Though they all now must enter the fated “big pond,” they learned more than they think at Hall.

“You might not have learned much from chemistry, you might have hated pre-calc, and let’s be honest who had fun on the SAT?” Hixson remarked. “But regardless of what classes you passed and which ones you failed, you learned something.”

“So when they hand you that coveted piece of paper, the one with a signature on it, don’t look at it as a trash compacted version of your transcript, look at it as personified proof of who you have become,” Hixson concluded.

Hixson was one of Wasley’s 10 students that he had not one, not two, but three times. “Out of 378 I taught 234. That’s 62 percent of the class,” Wasley stated proudly.

Wasley offered his own remarks – “Was-life lessons” he called them. It doesn’t matter what major you pursue in college, Wasley said, “You are all scientists.” All science really is, Wasley assured, is having curiosity.

“Learn how everything you buy in life works. If someone says ‘It’s always like that,’ that is your cue to boldly look.”

He then shared three “moments of wonder” he experienced, instructing the graduates to “be ready for those moments, they often come without warning.”

The first wondrous moment happened when Wasley was “three hours deep into a cave” and squeezing through nine-inch spaces in “basically pajamas, a swimsuit, and a bike helmet with a flashlight duct-taped onto the top.” His caving guide had everyone in the group turn off their headlamps and not talk for 60 seconds.

“I found light in a dark cave,” Wasley said.

The next wondrous moment occurred in a slightly less peaceful place: the hospital when his wife gave birth to their son, Dashiell. Wasley admitted that he and his wife had not read any of the informational books nor had they ever babysat a child before. But, to their surprise, once Dash was born they instinctively knew what to do and how to care for their son.

“Trust your gut. Use your brain,” Wasley said.

The final wondrous moment Wasley experienced was occurring right then and there, as hundreds of pairs of eyes looked back at him.

“Their character has always stayed the same,” Wasley said of the graduates, “They’re goofballs.”

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

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Hall High Principal Dan Zittoun addresses Class of 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Faculty Speaker Anthony Wasley and Student Speaker Ethan Hixson. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Student Association President Dan Gitelman leads the Pledge of Allegiance. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

Hall High Graduation 2017. Photo Credit: Gillian Hixson.

William H. Hall High School Class of 2017:

Victoria Abalyan

Xiana Yanis Albino

Yasmin Marghany Albur

Daniel Levi Alpert

Ronan Alquist

Ana Karolina Alves Costa

Daniel Amestoy

Nicole Lynn Anderson

Oliver Emerson Anderson

Charlotte Sadye Apter

Sophia Arian

Dawson Fowler Atherton

Mary Baig

Caswell A. Bailey

Jordan Israel Baker

Kelesha Ann-Juleef Banton

Taegan Sara Bard

Alexandra Grace Barnett

Alyssa Caryn Barrington

Mikayla Barton

Thiago Flavio Bastos

Taylor Santese Battle

Jeffrey Alden Beach

Erika Rose Becker

Nicholas Robert Becker

Gaganjot Singh Bedi

Jhanea Dayshelle Bellamy

Yokra Ben-Naim

Dashiell Anthony Bennett

Hannah Carolyn Berman

Sarah Evanna Berman

Matthew Reid Berson

Talha M. Bhatti

Samuel Erik Bidwell

Eric Philip Bienstock

Hannah Rachel Bienstock

Heather Beth Bienstock

Theodore James Blaschinski

Connor Aryadhi Blodgett

Anna Margaret Boers

Marilena Marina Bona

Kevin Manuel Bonilla

Nicholas Anastacio Bonilla

Lucas C. Booth

Zachary Seth Borden

Venkat Nihar Reddy Borra

Elana Rose Bravin

Daniel Brocke

Grady Matthew Brockway

Lee Keating Brown

Margaret Rose Brown

Sara Rose Buchek

Blake Madison Bunker

Collin Benjamin Burkhard

Susanna Rose Burkhard

Xiang Cai

Ryan Bailey Callahan

Colin Michael Campagna

Aidan Mackenzie Campbell

Malik Mandela Campbell

Thomas Stanton Carey

Kisaan Kareem Carr

James Matthew Cashman

Margaret Mary Cassidy

Patrick Michael Cassidy

Sarah Ann Cates

Joshua Eliot Chandler

Anna Mary Rose Chapdelaine

Cammie Maia Cho

Emma Apple Chozick

Michael Salvatore Ciccarello

Daniel Alan Clark

Olivia Lei Claudio

David Ellis Cohen

Isabella Brakeman Colbath

Grace ElizabethSlim Coll

Mya Monica Colon

Henry Campbell Colwell

Kyle Terrance Conlon

Emma Clare Considine

Marshall Healy Cook

Brandon Jennings Cooke

Amy C. Coronado

Matthew Geovanny Coronel

Marie Catherine Cotter

Reed Gordon Courtmanche

Alexandra Taylor Coyne

Olivia Conlan Craig

Andrew John Cravedi

Bradley Michael Currier

Emma Marie Dalton

Destiny Marie Daniel

Angelo Charles Darienzo

Naseem Wajid Daud

Ilana Leigh Davidoff

Daniel H. Davidson

Zachary M. Davidson

Alexander Michael Della Bianca

Bryce Michael Della Bianca

Brian Julius Delvalle

Callie Amanda Demers-Schultz

Elizabeth Anne Devine

Chandra Dhanraj

Matthew James Dillon

William Delaney DiMatteo

Gianna Laurel Dionicio

Haimanot Muluken Dires

Heidi Donahue

Rexford William Dorchester

Belen Francoise Dumont

Samuel Copeland Dunlap

Evan Mackenzie Duzan

Nathan Joel Dworkin

Sophie Hazel Elfenbaum

Avi Grayson Ehrlich

Benjamin Matthew Ellovich

Sean Michael Ennis

Samya Johnsie Epps

Giselle Celia Epstein

Thomas Nils Evelein

Osama Eyadat

Claire Aline Fagan

Daniel Naum Falkovich

Miles Benjamin Fields

Peter Moses Figgie

Iris Abigail Figueroa Duenas

Elena Rose Filson

Samuel Bishop Fiske

Colin Michael Fitzsimonds

Erik Florez

Peter Michael Fox

Mariana Antonella Franco

Jordan Harris Frank

Marissa R. Freed

Eli Jacob Freilich

Rebecca Tamar Fried

Audrey Elizabeth Fromson

Christopher James Gabow

Kenneth James Galm

Ameir Devane Gamble

Grace Tierney Gaucher

Hannah Kathleen Gaumer

Shannon Catherine Genero

Gabrielle Sara Gershon

Nikolas Peter Gianoulis

Jake Thomas Gilden

Katherine Healy Gillis

Danielle Felicity Girard

Daniel Eric Gitelman

Juwan Karl Givens

Colman John Glagovich

Jennifer Ashley Glascock

Colby Brendan Glidden

Rachel Grace Glucksman

Weliton Gomes da Silva

Sarah Katherine Gordon

Spencer James Goulet

Nathan L. Graber-Lipperman

Melanie A. Grados

Trevon Marquise Graham

Caroline Katherine Grant

Dylan James Graves

Liam John Grocki

Prithvi V. Guddera

Chelsea Martha Hall

Zubari Hall

Emily K. Hardy

Sarah Elizabeth Harinstein

Drew Osborn Harker

Ruth Ann Harrison

Devin Thomas Hartzog

Sarah Lauren Healy

Lydia Ann Henning

Allison Kathleen Herz

Jacob Parker Herz

Karina Heye-Smith

Carla Mariel Hidalgo Reyna

Ethan T. Hixson

Ryan P. Ho

Joseph Owen Hochman

Merrill Elizabeth Hoelzel

Kiearra Najae Hollis

Miriam Rose Holsbeke

Brendan Smith Horan

Orion Howard

Megel Anthony Hudson

Syed Shahmeer Hussain

Okotie Ikani

Genesis Marelid Infantas

Bre’Anna A. Jackson

Fernanda Yannelis Jimenez

Aditi Joshi

Jonathan Forrest Kaback

Andrew Peter Kahn

Leah Rae Kahn

Elijah Oscar Kantrowitz

Marissa Anne Kaufmann

Christopher Thomas Keegan

William Christopher Keller

Samantha Hannah Kennedy

Jenny Ngoc Thi Kha

Etan Klau

Benjamin Thomas Kriedel

Tanner Coen Kriedel

Adam W. Kroll

Joshua Samuel Laber

Charles Caldwell Lage

Amina Symone Lampkin

Ethan John LaPlante

Ryley LaPointe

Alexander Henrique Lazzari

Marielle Juliette LeFebvre

Hayley Marie Lemke

Meghan Elizbeth Leonard

Ryan D. Leopold

Jacob Lawrence Lessne

Anastasiya Diana Levytska

Alex Brendan Lim

Gabrielle Emma Little

Rachel Joy Lloyd

Christian Aaron Lund

Sierra Lynn Lyles

Samantha Alexis Maggi

Sabiha Noor Mahmood

Tamara Alexandra Malhas

Qasim Haseeb Malik

Yusuf Hasan Malik

Noa-Ariella Bower Malone

Shannon Elise Manchester

Atharva Rajendra Manjrekar

Aisling Millar Marie

Jacob Garrett Markowitz

Max Markowitz

Joseph Lawrence Marks

Benjamin Garrette Martin

Burke Edward Martindale

Jorge Daniel Martinez-Lopez

Athena Theresa Matsikas

Maria del Carmen Maturana

Hannah Katherine Maynard

Kyle Michael McGoldrick

Sarah Josephine McGuinness

Edward Fox McManus

Seth Jonathan Meisler

Adelaide Elizabeth Meny

Ronald Jordan Michaels

Linnea Jane Michalski

Julan Tyreeke Mickens

Grace Shang Miller

William Aaron Miller

Pablo Miras-DeSimone

Nina M. Mirontchik

Brennan Mitchell

Olivia Louise Mitchell

Alessandra Ann Mitrano

Sara Elisabeth Modderno-Napoli

Jordan Tyler Mogel

Sara Yahia Mohamedzein

Andy Nathaniel Moise

Christopher J. Monnes

Elizabeth Cunningham Moran

Olivia Mary Moran

Carolina Lidia Murillo-Alegria

Ava Noelle Murphy

Shannon Kelley Murphy

Pedro Henrique Musat Lanzoni

Alexandra Rae Myers

Mohammad Raza Naqvi

Abraham Steven Nawy

Bao Gia Nguyen

Armani Josue Nieves

Abinaya Niranjan

Erin Wilson O’Connor

Thomas Edgar O’Gorman

Caroline Jean O’Keefe

Patrick Joseph O’Keefe

Andrew Oh

Samuel Evan Oldach

Kiana Alysse Ortolaza

Ian Otero

Daniel Rowan Padberg-Bartoo

Lilybeth Aylen Padilla

Samuel Louis Palczewski

Cristina Palmeri

Christopher Yuen Pang

Alexandra Papas

Ashim Paudel

Nicholas Eugene Paul

Jonathan Reid Peikes

Luis Giovanni Perez

Eli Shannon Perry

Michael Hao Piao

Margaret Drew Pidto

Rachel Sarah Pinsky

David P. Pinto

Alyssa Sophia Pitek

Riley Micheline Poduje

Hunter John Polce

Sabrina Rosa Portal

Kory Adam Powell

Annabel P. Prestley

Margaret Jane Price

Karolina Alida Putterman

Hope Elizabeth Raney

Armaan Rangnekar

Jeremy Lee Rausch

Joseph John Reilly

Emily Kaitlin Remicio

Cody David Richter

Caleb Minard Ritter

John Greenacre Robinson

Tyrek Robinson

Ryan Eric Rocheleau

Avigail Naomi Rockland

Benjamin William Roland

Israel Mackelen Romero

Andrew Benjamin Rosenthal-Baxter

Erica Leah Rothenberg

Patrick Randle Ruffee

Catherine Olivia Rutstein

Emily Elnur Sadygov

Ashlee Lynn Sanchez

Ryan Alexi Sandler

Menachem Schreiber

Jessica Lauren Schwartz

Lily Alison Shakun

Ryan Michael Shearin

Julia Rae Silverman

Elizabeth Kathleen Skuba

Nathaniel Charles Skuba

Patrick Lawrence Skwiot

Halle Reise Smith

Simone Novlette Smith

Kamilla Stefane Silva Soares

Noah Jacob Sobel-Pressman

Lauren Marie Sosa

Lili Tobia St. Amand

Benjamin Russell Storms

Irene Elizabeth Sullivan

Diane Phayphone Sundara

Sara Lindsey Sutula

Andrew Joseph Swain

Christian Joseph Marshall Talarski

Christopher Guang Tang

Nelson Josue Tejeda-Cardenas

Alexander Joseph Terne

Sarah Elizabeth Thaxton

Harrington Chase Thompson

Tara Nicole Tiernan

Anna Foster Tilden

Alexandra Albright Tomb

Sovannarith N. Touch

Cody Ryan Towner

Cameron James Tripp

David Tse

Veronica Rebecca Tsvok

Tatyana Lisette Tulier

Caroline Grace Turner

Ricquon Tynell Tyson

Gabriela Alina Valdiglesias

Paul Elliott Van Doren

Jose David Vasquez

Raelyn Marie Vasquez

Yurijah Mekhi Vega

Anthony Cecidio Verde

Michael Alexander Verrengia

Alexander Reyes Walshaw

Emma Day Warshauer

Charles William Webersen

Evan Joseph Weinstock

Sydney Jacqueline Weiser

Jaiden West

Andrew Michael White

Ethan Henry Wilkins

Christopher J. Winnick

Caroline Libucha Wisialowski

Heather Elizabeth Wright

Natalie Charlotte Wright

Dale Tong Yu

Sophia Fiora Zeidner

Talia Emilie Zeidner

Carly Faye Zetoff

Jimmy Zhao

Jia Wen Zheng

Thomas Marc Zinzarella

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Gillian Hixson

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