Hard work, perseverance brings reward to CIBA grads

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Jun. 23, 2011
Isha Lopez, Meia Harris, Caitlin Pollen and Nneyko Griffiths were among the 33 graduates in the Connecticut IB Academy's Class of 2011. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Isha Lopez, Meia Harris, Caitlin Pollen and Nneyko Griffiths were among the 33 graduates in the Connecticut IB Academy's Class of 2011. Photos by Frances Taylor.

Graduation day for the 33 students in the Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy’s Class of 2011 was an acknowledgment of the challenging academic journey it took to get there.

“Despite the hard work it took to get here, we made our goal,” said Allison Bromande, a student speaker at the commencement ceremony held June 21 at East Hartford Middle School. “And wherever we go from here, we’ll always remember that we have this family of 33.”

The International Baccalaureate program is a rigorous course that requires students to achieve academic skills based on critical thinking, international focus, and community service. CIBA draws students from across the greater Hartford area.

Superintendent Mark Zito said during his address to the class that CIBA is ranked 24th this year among the top high schools in the U.S. “We are proud of your accomplishment today,” said Zito. “You have not only met the challenges, but exceeded them.”

Wilbert Vasquez told the commencement audience that CIBA has given him the knowledge and the confidence to express his ideas and to meet his goals. “I see the change in myself, and I owe that to IB,” Vasquez said. “It can be seen in the way we carry ourselves... and our passion for learning.”

As they spoke to friends and family, students acknowledged they did not do it alone. At one point, the 33 students left the stage, each carrying a single rose, and began walking through the audience. “Please give this to a special person of your choice who is here today,” said Principal Art Arpin. Surprised parents and friends took the roses and hugged their graduates.

Samantha McMillen was the winner of the Abelon Scholarship, which is given to the student who is “committed to learning and inquiry, possessing the ethical outlook of an informed citizen who is capable of becoming a global leader.” The Abelon Scholarship is given in the memory of Michael Abelon, a former principal of CIBA. “CIBA has shown me the world that is outside these city limits,” McMillen said. “And I am proud to call the people I have met here my friends.”


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