Bulkeley, Classical Students Remember Departed Peers
June 26, 2005
By ASHLEY L. BATTLE, Courant Staff Writer
The senior class at Bulkeley High School had a lot to overcome
this year. Two Bulkeley students suffered unexpected, nonviolent
deaths - William Ward in September and Christopher Barry in January.
"When he left that morning, he didn't say anything about
not feeling well," said Barry's father, Peter. "He looked
Barry's father and mother, Sandra, were presented with a maroon
cap and gown Saturday at the graduation ceremonies in Welte Auditorium
at Central Connecticut State University. The Barrys were also presented
with the school's first Superintendent's Leadership Award in honor
of their son. The school plans to present the award every year
to a graduating senior in memory of Barry.
"One of the things Chris taught me was that you're never
too old to give a hug or a kiss," Peter Barry said. "The
last thing he said to me that morning was `I love you, Dad.' The
last thing he told his mother was `I love you, Mom.' Tell your
parents you love them. Give them a hug," said Peter, after
receiving a standing ovation in honor of his son.
Cierra Perez, daughter of Mayor Eddie Perez, was presented with
flowers from her father, who handed her diploma to her.
Principal Miriam Morales-Taylor
told the graduating class, "Urge
yourself to set goals and work hard to secure yourself."
Superintendent Robert Henry
said that graduating showed the world that "you have brains and ability." Of
the 262 graduates, 82 percent are college-bound. The rest are
joining the armed forces or attending vocational schools. The
senior class also won more than $1 million in scholarships and
prizes and more Mass Mutual awards than any other school in Hartford.
Mayor Perez told the graduates
to "get up with a little more
energy and strength" if they ever fall down.
Valedictorian Kledia Myrtolli thanked the parents and teachers
on behalf of the class, and salutatorian Emmaris Soto urged her
classmates to not dwell in the past, but to learn from it.
Keynote speaker Jeffrey Dressler told the graduates to focus on
their abilities, not their inabilities. After detailing the injuries
he sustained in a car accident while in school in Puerto Rico,
he told the graduates that he left the hospital against doctor's
orders so he could attend school.
"Even though I was a passenger in that car, I took responsibility," he
Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School
In ceremonies at Hartford City Hall Saturday evening, 20 seniors
dressed in white and black gowns graduated from the Greater Hartford
Classical Magnet School.
"It's a time for celebration, but it's also a day of sorrow," said
valedictorian Visar Ajeti. "Stay focused even when the going
Senior Hugh Fraser opened the ceremony by asking for a moment
of silence in honor of those who lost their lives in Iraq, as well
as those such as Hartford Public High School student Derek R. Benford
Jr. who lost their lives to violence in Hartford.
It was the first graduation for the school since it opened its
doors on Woodland Street. The magnet program was previously part
of Hartford Public.
"You have helped lead by example, by taking a risk," Principal
Tim Sullivan said. The students had to decide whether they wanted
to leave Hartford Public behind and finish their high school education
"I didn't think I had the capacity to make it this high,
but I was wrong. Classical taught me that I did," said salutatorian
John Motley, the board of education's
executive director for external affairs, spoke on behalf of the
superintendent of schools, telling the graduates to "keep
your eye on the ball, aim high and keep going forward."
A list of graduates will be published Monday.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at