June 21, 2007
By EZRA R. SILK, Courant Staff Writer
In an intimate theater at the Greater Hartford Academy for the Arts, the 38 graduating seniors from Pathways to Technology Magnet School gathered with families and friends to boisterously celebrate their accomplishments, receive their diplomas and discuss the plight of education in Hartford.
Themes of racial harmony and the need for minority role models echoed through the ceremony.
Class salutatorian Ashley Wallace, who has received a full four-year scholarship to the University of Connecticut, said she felt at home with her class, the second to graduate from Pathways.
"I was the first Caucasian to ever enter Pathways," she said. "There were stares at first, but they welcomed me with open arms and I felt like I was part of the family."
Joshua Hall, a history teacher at Weaver High School who not too long ago graduated from Hartford Public High School, spoke to the graduates, many of whom are from Hartford, about problems in the capital city.
"I went through high school for four years without having a black teacher," Hall said. "To me there's something inherently wrong with that."
To Hall, the solution is to get a bachelor's degree in "selflessness, not selfishness," and to return to Hartford to combat ignorance.
"There's a war in Iraq right now," Hall said. "But to some extent we are fighting a war here in Hartford. We need you to go to college and come back and fight."
The ceremony was punctuated by moments of revelry. After the speeches, English and technology teacher Kelli Caufman announced that she had a gift for the class - a slide show with photos and videos from years back, some perhaps embarrassing.
"This is for every time you came to class late, didn't do your homework or didn't listen to me," she said. "Boys and girls, your teacher is getting her revenge."
As "In Da Club" by rapper 50 Cent began playing in the background and the crowd began hooting and hollering, a warning appeared on the screen.
"The following video is rated `M' for memories," it read.
Ultimately, Assistant Superintendent of Magnet Schools Dolores Bolton told the graduates, in the future she would rely on the technological skills the students learned at Pathways.
"Someday I'll need you guys to help me keep breathing and to get rid of my allergies," she said.
But, Bolton said, there are even more important things.
"In the world of technology, where innovations are unveiled every day," she said, "never forget the people behind the innovations."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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