June 21, 2007
By NIRAJ CHOKSHI, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford's Bulkeley High School Class of 2007 was nothing if not proud at Wednesday night's graduation in Central Connecticut State University's Welte Auditorium.
That pride was deserved, Principal Miriam Morales-Taylor said in her welcome address.
"Many graduates began their high school careers speaking no English or very little English and now head to some of the finest colleges in the country," she said.
Valedictorian Krizia Malave, who will attend Tufts in the fall as a pre-med student, encouraged her classmates to remember those who helped them to graduate and defended Hartford schools with pride.
"I don't entirely agree with the negative comments people have to say about Hartford public schools because Bulkeley has some of the best teachers and students I have known," she said.
That sentiment was matched by salutatorian Owen Deutsch, who is heading to Pomona College in California to major in engineering.
"Whether or not it's the best school in the country doesn't matter because it was ours," he said.
The keynote speaker was Assistant State's Attorney Toni-Smith Rosario, a 1985 Bulkeley graduate. Rosario related her family's harsh immigrant experience to that of Bulkeley's graduates, many of whom come from immigrant families, she said.
Her grandparents "lived in Spanish Harlem, in an unheated apartment building with rats and roaches. ... My grandparents' story isn't that different from a lot of people who've graduated from Bulkeley High School. Bulkeley High School has traditionally been a school of immigrants," she said.
Rosario went to Harvard after two Bulkeley teachers pushed her to apply, then attended Yale Law School.
"Be proud of who you are, be proud of being graduates of Bulkeley," she said.
Before awarding diplomas to 220 graduates, Morales-Taylor presented the mother of Alberto Medina, who died of leukemia in December, with his cap, gown and diploma, an act that received a standing ovation.
In the last speech of the night, class president Estefania Rodriguez stressed the need to be self-motivated.
"I propose that from now on, you make the decisions, you do the research, you do the paperwork and you push yourself," she said.
"Get ready to run right through those doors and claim what is ours. ... My message today is point-blank motivation."
The graduating class and some in the audience concluded the night by singing the school song, and their energy was epitomized in one of the last lines: "Let's have a cheer for our great school." And so they did, loudly and with pride.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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