Hall High School’s commencement included speeches from West Hartford Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Andrew Morrow, Board of Education Member Ethan Goldman, student speaker Nora Holmes, and faculty speaker Jeff Billing.
By Lily Guberman. Photos by Sophie Christensen and Lily Guberman
The 85-degree weather set the perfect scene for Hall High School’s 2022 graduation ceremony.
Under the shining sun, the 373 members of the Class of 2022 gathered to take pictures with friends before heading to their seats for the ceremony to begin. Promptly at 5 o’clock, Principal Dan Zittoun and other members of the Hall High School administration led the graduates to their seats on the field.
The commencement ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance, lead by Class of 2022 Senior Juliannah Xavier, followed by the National Anthem performed by the Hall High Concert Band.
During his introduction to the Class of 2022, Principal Dan Zittoun shared a letter he recently received that provided the answer to something he had wondered about since he became principal: the meaning of the leaning “H” statue in front of the school. The letter, dated June 8, 1989, was written by Bryan Pariseault on behalf of the Class of 1989, and was unearthed by Parisealt’s father and brought to Zittoun.
“This ‘H’ is more than just a cement form in front of a school, it represents Hall, and to a larger extent, life. The lean, and arrow represent movement forward, to brighter and better things. Life however is not perfect, and its many quirks and misfortunes are represented as well, by the irregular layering of the slabs,” wrote Parisealt.
“I share this story because it seems fitting that even in 1989, they knew that life is not perfect, and it has many quirks and misfortunes,” Zittoun said. He acknowledged that while there were many “quirks and misfortunes” the Class of 2022 experienced during the past four years, their “honor, integrity, determination and self-efficacy” helped them move forward.
Assistant Superintendent Andrew Morrow shared a quote with the graduates: “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one,” and he urged them to “spend time with the people and issues that are important to [them].” He also encouraged them to explore new things and find their passion.
Following Morrow’s speech, Board of Education member Ethan Goldman offered 10 pieces of advice to the Class of 2022, focused on the theme of moving on. “Look forward, don’t spend your time looking back at the past,” he said.
Goldman also emphasized the importance of being open – to challenges, experiences and different points of view.
Taking a break from speeches, the senior members of the Chorale sang the Hall High Alma Mater.
Student Speaker Nora Holmes spoke next to her fellow graduates. She began by stating that her time as a distance runner prepared her to endure through different, difficult experiences in life, and credited her fellow classmates with the same ability to continue moving forward. She expressed their ability to live through the pandemic, climate change and other major current events along with the more mundane challenges of being a high school student.
Holmes also described the Class of 2022 as being committed to “writing [their] own stories,” and talked about the “expansive forward” that they were on the edge of. “Always, always, always, keep moving forward,” she said in her closing remarks.
The Hall High School Choraliers sang “Homeward Bound” by Marta Keen for the fourth year in a row – with the song’s lyrics uplifting graduates to explore the new phase of their life after high school, and encouraging them “find [their] calling.”
Jeff Billing, chosen as the faculty speaker, shared a story with the graduates from his time backpacking through Europe.
A summary of the story: Billing and his best friend, Ben, had spent time traveling across Western Europe and wound up on a train headed for Lisbon, Portugal. During the ride they fell asleep, but they got up just in time to hear the conductor announce something about Lisbon, or so the non-Portuguese speakers thought. As it turned out, they got off at the wrong stop and found themselves in a town not at all near Lisbon. After an unexpected turn of events (discovering a race, Ben registering on the fly, and then being assigned to a team with four strangers), they ended up at the house of the teammates and find themselves watching the Brazil vs. Germany 2002 World Cup match. Eventually they got back on track, but getting off at the wrong stop turned out to be “one of the best mistakes [they] ever made” and “one of the best days of [their] lives.”
The point of the story was to remind graduates that in life, “things are going to go wrong” and he encouraged them to “get as much right as you can. But when you don’t … well you never know where the wrong stop will bring you.”
The ceremony closed with the Charge to the Class given by 2022 National Honor Society Officers: Katherine Sanderson, Emma Kingwell, Veronica Safryn, Brooke Birbara, Sophia Friedman, Miranda Scully, and Jenna Williams.
The list of graduating seniors in the Class of 2022 can be found listed below the photos.
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Hall High School Class of 2022:
|Luis Omar||Leon Plasencia|
|Gerkarit Joselin||Mena Garces|