West Hartford Class of 2017 Military Inductees Recognized at American Legion Ceremony

From left: Beth Kyle; Timothy Kyle, who will be part of the Navy ROTC program at Fordham University; and Paul Kyle. Photo credit: Jackie Palermo

On May 30, 22 members of the class of 2017 from West Hartford’s high schools gathered at the American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 at 45 Raymond Rd. to be honored for their future service for our country.

By Gillian Hixson and Jackie Palermo

American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 and West Hartford’s high schools partnered up for the second annual military recognition ceremony Tuesday to thank and honor 22 courageous and selfless young men and women who have committed to serve their country.

Paul Vicinus, assistant superintendent for West Hartford Public Schools, said the local American Legion representatives reached out to West Hartford Public Schools to plan this congratulatory event. He added that the ceremony is not exclusive to public high school seniors graduating from Hall and Conard, but includes Kingswood Oxford and Northwest Catholic graduates as well.

At the ceremony, representatives from West Hartford Public Schools as well as past and present military personnel were incredibly excited to formally congratulate the young graduates, thank them, and provide some words of advice and encouragement in their future endeavors.

Post 96 Commander Jeffrey Cole  said to the 2017 graduates, “Thank you for stepping up … so we can maintain the freedoms and opportunities we have today.”

West Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore also thanked the honorees, stating, “What could I possibly have to say other than ‘Thank you.’ I can’t thank you enough.”

Moore continued, making a joke that the honorees’ generation is frequently chastised by members of older generations for being glued to their phones. But, Moore said to the graduates, “You make that a lie … you are providing a legacy.”

Michael Sisti, a 2016 Conard High School graduate who is part of ROTC at Yale, speaks to the members of the Class of 2017. Photo credit: Jackie Palermo

One of last year’s honorees, Michael Sisti, offered advice based upon his first year in the Air Force ROTC program at Yale University. Sisti encouraged the honorees to work hard, stating “You build skills you don’t realize you’re building.”

Each student walked to the front of the room and received his or her certificate and cords to wear at graduation, and each honoree had a unique reason for pursuing the military.

Andy Le, a senior at Conard High School joining the Army National Guard, explained his desire to serve as a medic and eventually become a medical service officer.

Nora Dynowski, a senior at Conard High School participating in the Army ROTC program and planning to study nursing at Arizona State University, expressed her parents’ initial worries about her, as a woman, entering the military but stated simply, “I want to serve my country.”

Tyler Correia, a graduate from Conard High school has enlisted in the U.S Air Force. Correia explained that he had been interested in the military from a young age, and when he heard a commercial for the Air Force on television, it immediately piqued his interest. After going online, looking into the possible job opportunities, and taking the ASVAB test, he decided the Air Force matched his aspirations.

Correia said he hopes to be a mechanical engineer, and use this experience as a way to both structure his path and be able to “live life in a different perspective.”

Conard senior Timothy Kyle enlisted in Fordham’s Navy ROTC program and spoke about his journey down a path which promises some of the enjoyments and experiences of a normal college career yet with “a purpose.” He explained that what excites and draws him to service is “having a mission, and having to fulfill it.”

To end the ceremony, Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Cole, son of Post Commander Jeffrey Cole and the keynote speaker of the night, gave a stirring and honest depiction of life in the military.

Using the core values of the different military services, such as integrity, “service before self,” “excellence in all we do,” and respect, Cole offered his own advice. However, Cole prefaced his speech by saying, “I’m here to motivate an already highly-motivated group.”

The greatest piece of advice Cole gave to the 22 graduates was to work to maintain balance in all they do. “You’re going to hit the ground running,” Cole explained. “Leave it. Let it go. Take care of yourself.”

“I am envious of you because you are just starting out … enjoy it,” Cole said.

Moe Fradette, the immediate past commander of Hayes-Velhage Post 96, said the ceremony is “a tradition we hope to continue.”

A complete list of inductees and their upcoming military service plans can be found below in the PDF of the event program.

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Former American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 Commander Moe Fradette speaks to members of the Class of 2017 who have committed to military service. Photo credit: Jackie Palermo


Class of 2017 Military Inductees Recognition Ceremony. Photo credit: Jackie Palermo

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Jackie Palermo

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