WHHS Class of 2015 valedictorian & salutatorian
WHHS names Class of 2015 valedictorian, salutatorian
Posted on 06/24/2015
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WEST HAVEN, June 16, 2015 — West Haven High School administrators have announced that this year’s valedictorian is Hailey Dias, a psychology major heading to Quinnipiac University, while the salutatorian is Kharl Reynado, an aspiring lawyer who will study at the University of Connecticut in the Special Program in Law.

The WHHS commencement ceremony for the Class of 2015 is set for this evening on the high school campus and will award diplomas to around 330 students. Both Dias and Reynado, who say programs at WHHS helped steer them toward their prospective career paths, will address their fellow seniors at graduation.

Dias said her educational goals include attending graduate school and later receiving her PhD in psychology. When it comes to her career, she hopes to eventually return to the West Haven Public School District to help students and then to later work with adults.

“I’ve always just wanted to help people. I feel I would be able to relate to the students I would be working with because sometimes I had a hard time adjusting to school,” Dias said, adding that she wants to thank her school counselor for helping her through the decision-making process when it was time to select a college.

Dias, a member of the WHHS National Honor Society, hadn’t considered working in the psychology field until she took a career assessment at WHHS a few years ago. Her results recommended the social work and human services area. So she took an advanced placement (college-level) psychology course at WHHS to see if it piqued her interest and found herself enjoying the material.

Dias also realized she enjoys working with children through her involvement with the WHHS Grassroots Action Club, which has worked with West Haven elementary schools to teach youngsters about recycling.

While at WHHS, she also took AP Government and Politics, AP Literature and AP Human Geography, and is leaving with college credit for at least one of the classes; she’s still waiting results on the AP exam for the others. Her advice for incoming freshmen is to get involved with school events and clubs and says that’s a goal she’s set for herself at Quinnipiac.

“I’ll miss seeing the people from my classes because it felt like we were a little family, and I’ll miss seeing all the familiar faces at WHHS. But I’m looking forward to a fresh start and doing more as part of a new school community,” said Dias, who is already planning to join a psychology club at QU.

Reynado said she first began thinking about a career in law as a child after watching her grandfather become a lawyer.

“I really look up to him. He’s helped a lot of people, and it took him until he was around 40 to finish his education. I respect how hard he worked to get there,” she added.

It’s no surprise one of Reynado’s favorite parts of high school was being a member of the WHHS Mock Trial team, which competes against other high schools in the state by presenting a fictitious court case each year and assigning team members various roles, including witnesses, attorneys and experts. This year, she was honored as the WHHS Mock Trial Team Person of the Year.

Although Reynado will be in a special law program at UConn, she must still declare a separate major and is debating between economics and physics. While at WHHS, she took physics honors and AP Physics II, as well as AP biology, AP chemistry, AP literature, AP Calculus and AP Government and Politics, and will be leaving with college credit for at least two of the classes; she’s awaiting results of tests for the others.

Additionally, Reynado was a member of the girls tennis team, National Honor Society, Math Team, Asian Club and West Whims literary magazine. Last summer, she also worked as an intern for WHHS graduate Shari-Lynn Cuomo Shore, an attorney and coach of the WHHS Mock Trial Team.

Reynado said she didn’t believe those who used to tell her high school would fly by. But now as a senior, she reminds freshmen of the same thing.

“The advice I would give to younger students is to stay calm and keep in mind that everything will work out. I remember worrying junior year about getting into college and getting all of my classwork done,” she said. “It’s important to keep everything in perspective and have confidence in yourself.”

WHHS Principal Pamela Gardner said Dias and Reynado have proven themselves to be stellar students who displayed an admirable work ethic and great amount of determination during their years at WHHS.

“I’m so proud of Hailey and Kharl and all that they accomplished while at West Haven High School. They took AP classes to challenge themselves and pursue early college credits, got involved in the school community, and found ways to explore potential career paths,” Gardner said. “We wish them the very best in college and look forward to hearing about their future success.”