Windham High School graduates are a diverse group

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Mon., Jun. 10, 2013
Windham High School seniors reflect on their time at the school on the day before graduation. (L-r): Christian Clarke, Zack Fox, Gabrielle Kissman, Chad Wolfe and Christine Mercado. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Windham High School seniors reflect on their time at the school on the day before graduation. (L-r): Christian Clarke, Zack Fox, Gabrielle Kissman, Chad Wolfe and Christine Mercado. Photos by Melanie Savage.

In a diverse community such as Windham, it’s no surprise that the graduating seniors from Windham High School’s Class of 2013 represent an interesting group from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of different interests. On June 6, following a commencement ceremony rehearsal in the school gymnasium, a number of those seniors sat down to talk about their time at Windham High School and their plans for the future.

Christian Clarke has participated on the football, basketball and outdoor track teams during his time at Windham. Clarke, who was named an All-ECC and All-Area athlete and was a runner-up for All-State in football, was named the class athlete. Clarke plans to attend Springfield College in the fall, where he will play Division III football.

According to Windham teacher Vince Iovine, Clarke struggled during his early time at Windham, but was able to turn things around. Clarke credits his development as a leader to his involvement in sports. “I have a real passion for and dedication to football,” he said.

Chad Wolfe is a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, he sings and he plays with the Windham High School Marching Band. He is an honors student who has been involved as a peer support aid at the school, getting together with disabled students one period per day to work on crafts and other activities. Last month, he was involved in the very first Unified Theater production at the school.

Wolfe has plans to join the National Guard after graduation. With an interest in the sciences, Wolfe plans to train as a laboratory specialist. “I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in, and they had an opening in the field,” he explained.

Zack Fox is, in Iovine’s words, “a future professional skateboarder.” Fox currently skates for the Skate Shop on Main Street in Willimantic, and has become well-known among his peers for his skills in the sport. “Everyone tells me I’m going to make it to be a pro,” said Fox. “I’m really committed to that.”

Fox is leaning toward Oberlin College for the fall, where he has been offered a scholarship for swimming and diving. He plans to major in bio-engineering. “Education has to be first,” said Fox. But in his free time, Fox plans to continue his dedication to skateboarding. He hopes to eventually qualify for elite competitions such as the X Games. “Everyone keeps telling me that in a couple of years I might be able to do it,” said Fox.

Gabrielle Kissman has been involved in cheerleading, music and the peer support program during her time at Windham High School. Like Wolfe, she was involved in the school’s first Unified Theatre production. “Watching her, there’s a calmness you see when she works with [special needs students],” said Iovine.

Kissman has loved horses since she was a little girl, and started taking lessons in the fifth grade. “I’ve always wanted to ride horses,” she said. After graduation, Kissman plans to attend community college, “just to get my preliminaries done,” she said. Her ultimate goal is to work with horses, “probably as an equine vet,” said Kissman.

Christine Mercado has been involved in the chorus, the jazz choir, the drama program, the peer support program and the Unified Theater program. She has also been involved in the honors program and AP classes since her freshman year. Mercado had the honor of performing the solo choral performance at the Windham High School commencement ceremony, for which she chose Miley Cyrus’ “Wherever I Go.”

In the fall, Mercado plans to attend Southeastern University in Florida to study church music. The program will give her opportunities to focus on the technical side of performance in addition to working on her vocal skills, she explained. Iovine said that Mercado came back from a one-year hiatus from the drama program as “one of the most responsible, leadership-oriented students I know.”

Jackie Velez dropped out of Windham High School at the age of 18 to deal with some serious personal issues. She first attempted to obtain her diploma via the GED program, but decided to return to the school at the age of 20 to finish up, instead. “I stayed focused, I kept to myself and put my goals before everything, and now I’m here,” said Velez. Velez completed the requirements for graduation within five months of her return. She plans to attend cosmetology school in the fall.


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