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Hartford Graduates 42 Seniors From Weaver's Culinary Arts Academy

Tuesday Ceremony Among 14 City Graduations This Year

By VANESSA DE LA TORRE

June 12, 2012

HARTFORD Superintendent Christina Kishimoto suggested that her start in life was not much different from theirs.

She was raised in the projects of South Bronx, Kishimoto told graduates of Weaver High School's Culinary Arts Academy, and now addressed them as a head of schools.

"I hope that today you will choose to go to college... Choose to love your families and have lifelong friends... But most importantly," Kishimoto said Tuesday, "choose to write your own life story, and don't let it be written for you."

The morning event was one of 14 city graduations scheduled over a three-week span, the culmination of Kishimoto's inaugural year as superintendent. The final ceremonies are planned Wednesday for seniors at Pathways To Technology Magnet High School and the University High School of Science and Engineering.

Schools spokesman David Medina said administrators could not yet estimate how many Hartford students graduated this year. In 2011, the city graduation rate reached 60 percent.

At Weaver's Culinary Arts Academy, Principal Matthew Conway said all 42 seniors received their diplomas "a lot of hard work on their part, a lot of push by the staff, by members of the community and parents," he said.

Life struggles were evident in senior Deniqua Miller's stark poem, "I Am From."

"I am from a place where no one feels welcome," Miller, 18, recited Tuesday in the school gymnasium. "I am from the Beat, born and raised ... I am from a place where bullets have no names; wrong place, wrong time, and your life goes away."

Kenya Stewart, the 18-year-old captain of the state champion Weaver girls' basketball team, gave a brief valedictory address in which she offered thanks. Stewart earned As and Bs at Weaver and plans to attend Suffield Academy for a post-graduate year. Her hope, she said, is to play basketball in college.

The salutatorian was Jason Tucker, who received a scholarship from the Hartford Principals and Supervisors Association and will head to Central Connecticut State University.

Conway also recognized social studies teacher Christine Tofil, who is retiring after a 34-year career in the city.

"My heart has always been in Hartford," Tofil said later. She is a Bulkeley graduate and the Culinary Arts Academy's 2012 Teacher of the Year, and if she had advice for her students, it was this: "Education is the key to a greater future. If they keep that in mind,

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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