At Classical Magnet in Hartford, 7 years ends with a shared identity
Hartford Courant. Shawn R. Beals. June 17, 2017.

Students graduating from Classical Magnet School spend 7 years as a group, and speakers during the Class of 2017 graduation Saturday said the continuity of having middle school and high school in the same place has been an asset for them.

Valedictorian ShayMin Pezzulo said the extended time as a group makes Classical a place where race doesn't matter and where a true sense of self-identity develops.

"We have come to learn that not every imperfection needs correction and that resilience is what proves brilliance," Pezzulo said.

Pezzulo, who chose Harvard out of six Ivy League schools, said the class of 63 students being so close was an advantage that allowed them to learn for life rather than school, and was a major part of "being able to embark on a path to stand here today and eventually get into a school one can only dream of. For that I am endlessly indebted to you all."

In its graduation ceremony Saturday afternoon, Classical gave an honorary degree to Margot Marguerite Jeremias, a Holocaust survivor who was separated from her family by the Nazis during World War II and forced to give up her education. Jeremias speaks at the school every year to share her story and talk about the imporance of education.

Principal Zandralyn V. Gordon said Jeremias is "a lifelong learner" and presented her with "a lifelong overdue and very well-earned high school diploma."

Salutatorian Clare DiMaiolo said beyond assignments and tests, the Class of 2017 outlasted budget cuts and administration changes, challenged stereotypes and found an identity together.

"We changed possible and by doing say changed this tiny segment of the entire world," DiMaiolo said. "For those of you who are not awake it's time to wake up, because this class has the power and the drive and the potentiality to continue to change more and more tiny segments of the entire world until we change the whole thing."

Hartford Board of Education Second Vice Chair Karen Taylor said Classical's students have seized an opportunity to receive a liberal arts education. She said the new Kendrick Lamar hit "HUMBLE." sums up some of her advice.

"I hope you all understand you are graduating from a high school in one of the poorest cities in America but also one of the richest states in America. You all have been afforded an opportunity to have an education with diverse peers, you have a liberal arts education, and I will tell you nothing prepares you for the world like a liberal arts education," Taylor said. "Be humble, but be confident, and take your seat at the table in a manner that says 'I know that I belong.' The city is proud of you. The Hartford Board of Education is proud of you."

Visit the News Archive for more magnet school news.