WHHS seniors celebrate with College Signing Day
WHHS seniors celebrate with College Signing Day
Posted on 05/10/2016
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WEST HAVEN, May 9, 2016 — A May 6 West Haven High School event called College Signing Day honored graduating seniors who have chosen to continue their education or will be entering the military, and showcased each student’s post-high school plans.

WHHS and high schools across the country held College Signing Day celebrations as part of a national campaign that was launched in 2014 by first lady Michelle Obama and encourages students to continue their education at a four-year university, community college or professional training program. This is the second year in a row WHHS’ School Counseling Department has sponsored its own ceremony.

To qualify, seniors had to commit to a college, trade school or the military by May 2.

More than 100 WHHS seniors, most of them clad in apparel bearing the name of their future school or military branch for the special event, opted to participate. Each student was invited to walk across the WHHS stage, which was decorated with colorful college pennants, to receive a certificate as his or her college, trade school or military branch was announced to the crowd of fellow seniors, parents, teachers, school counselors and school district leaders. They also signed a College Signing Day banner and joined their parents for a reception after the ceremony.

Quinnipiac University, the University of Connecticut, Southern Connecticut State University, the University of New Haven, Clemson University, Penn State University, Towson University, Yale University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and California State University, Los Angeles were just a few of the colleges announced, while the United States Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy were on the list of military branches.

signing day

Though the day may have been an emotional and sentimental one for parents, students set a jubilant tone to the gathering, cheering for peers during each senior’s turn on stage, taking photos together, and excitedly chatting about their next destinations.

“I think the ceremony was really moving because these kids have worked so hard to get to this point, and it’s the beginning of the end of their time in West Haven schools,” said WHHS School Counseling Department Chair Rose Paolino. “It’s important to recognize the commitment they’re making to furthering their education after high school or to serving our country because they’ve made a big decision that will bring them one step closer to achieving the goals they’ve set for themselves.”

WHHS 2013 graduate and valedictorian Brenda Calderon, who now attends Yale University, addressed the seniors as the event’s featured speaker. Calderon is double majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and the History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health and was recently awarded the Science, Technology, and Research Scholars Fellowship for her research in biomedical engineering. Calderon told students that this may feel like the end of a tough journey that involved late nights of studying, calendars booked full with extracurricular activities, and projects, research papers and exams.

“Now all you have to do is finish college and get your degree, right? Today is just the beginning. I’m sure it feels like, ‘This is the end of the journey, I got into college, and I’m done working.’ Now you have to spend the next four years working very, very hard to make sure you graduate and accomplish that end goal,” Calderon told the WHHS seniors, advising students to get enough sleep, call their parents, go to the doctor if they get sick, explore new passions and “follow your bliss” while in college.

“When you get up here today and then go sign your name, feel proud of the moment. I want you guys to remember everything I just listed that you did over the course of the past year and over the course of the past four years, and, really, ever since you’ve been in kindergarten,” said Calderon, who is also president of the Undergraduate Women in Science at Yale group and has volunteered at free health clinics. “Remember all the hard work that went into this, and keep that in the back of your mind, and make sure you’re feeling proud of yourself and all your accomplishments.”