WHHS Class of 2014 sets sights on bright future
WHHS Class of 2014 sets sights on bright future
Posted on 06/25/2014
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WEST HAVEN, June 23, 2014 — Members of the West Haven High School Class of 2014 graduated Monday evening in Ken Strong Stadium, with school leaders commending them for their charitable spirit and labeling them as a new generation of role models. 

The 321 new alumni, clad in blue caps and gowns, received diplomas and commendations before a cheering crowd of family and friends and later celebrated in the campus courtyard at a picnic and at the Project Graduation “Blue & White . . . Up All Night” event.

Many will soon be advancing to four-year schools, including Harvard University, Emerson College, Fairfield University, and Mount Holyoke College, and others will be developing specialized skills in trade schools, such as Lincoln Technical Institute and Porter and Chester Institute. Some are entering the workforce or the military.

“No matter the journey you’re about to embark on, we know you’re poised for success, having watched you transform from West Haven High School’s students into the city’s newest generation of role models,” Supt. of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro told graduates.

He added that members of the Class of 2014 weren't just students in the eyes of the school community—they also, at times, taught and inspired faculty and staff in their own ways. They taught others not to underestimate what a young person can accomplish, whether it’s planning a fundraiser or balancing classes with sports and activities. They also showed their class was full of surprises, Cavallaro added, when they organized their own ballroom dance lessons to prepare for prom or welcomed staff to WHHS at 6 a.m. on Teacher Appreciation Day.

WHHS Principal Pamela Gardner noted that this year’s graduating class logged more than 15,000 hours of community service and was in school at a time when tragedies locally and across the world seemed to be an all-too-common occurrence. But those times have taught the graduates the importance of kindness and looking out for others.

“I am so, so proud of this class and how they have persevered in the face of adversity and turned it into a positive. They have developed kindness, thoughtfulness, and protectiveness. They are shining examples of the best of what America stands for, and they give me great hope for our future,” Gardner said.

The Class of 2014 provided assistance for those affected by the tsunami in Japan and the typhoon in the Philippines, the Sandy Hook community, fellow classmates, city elementary schools, Toys for Joy, the West Haven Animal Shelter and WHEAT. That was all on top of schoolwork, sports and extracurricular activities.

Valedictorian Yingxian Guo reminded her classmates they have shaped themselves into scholars, musicians, athletes, actors, mentors, artists and volunteers and urged them to continue helping others by “using your talent and independence in a meaningful way.”

“We all have the amazing capacity to use our greatness and individuality to make a difference in others’ lives,” said Guo, who will attend Harvard University to major in law and hopes to eventually become an attorney and federal judge.

Marla Gagne, the class salutatorian who will attend Providence College to major in English in the honors program and hopes to possibly go into publishing, emphasized that it’s OK not to have the future completely mapped out.

“All we can do is keep experiencing and living and trying to be the best person we can be,” she said. “Then, maybe one day we’ll finally be able to declare, with all confidence and assurance, who we are and what we want to do with our lives. I hope on that day, you think back to this moment and remember where you came from, the people that helped shape you, and the first place you accomplished great things.”

For many grads, leaving WHHS is like leaving home, Class President Catherine DePino said, acknowledging how students relied on teachers to help in the classroom and beyond, and how joining clubs provided a second family.  She challenged her peers to be open minded and take risks as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

“Be confident in your abilities and patient with your faults. And never give up on your dreams,” said DePino, who will attend Fairfield University on a law and business track to become a lawyer. “Our future is up to us. We can and we will make a difference because, after all, we are Westies."


Contact: Communications Director Susan Misur, 203-937-4300 X7114; susan.misur@whschools.org

Additional coverage:
New Haven Register photo gallery
New Haven Register graduation article
Project Graduation "Blue and White...Up All Night" photo gallery