Synergy, where dreams come true
Synergy, where dreams come trueBy Al Hemingway - Staff Writer
When Silina Whitehead started ninth grade at East Hartford High School, she began to have epileptic seizures. The debilitating illness prevented her from focusing on her education. Because of this, she transferred to Synergy Alternative High School to gain a new start. On June 18, Whitehead was one of 42 students who walked across the stage at the East Hartford Middle School to receive their diplomas from Principal John Karzar and Superintendent of Schools Mark Zito. It was one of the proudest moments of her life. Synergy does not have a keynote speaker at its graduation exercises, so she was one of six students who were chosen to speak that evening.
“I decided to transfer to Synergy because the classes were smaller,” Whitehead said to the audience, “and I knew I would be able to get past the situation I was going through. Once I got here, I was happy to get the support I needed from the staff and my peers. I was able to focus on my work and not my illness.”
Like Whitehead, the other graduating seniors from the class of 2010 also had to overcome difficulties to attain their goal to graduate. Gustavo Moreno came from Ecuador, and was thrust into a culture where he had to learn a new language and make new friends.
“Each one of us here is unique,” Moreno said. “We all have the potential to do something special and follow our dreams in life. Nelson Mandela once said that by shining your light, you inspire others to shine their light. By being successful, you will lead others to success.” Even while in terrible pain from an accident where she received third-degree burns, Valentina Benitez kept her faith and continued with her education. She told her classmates not to “sweat the small stuff,” and move on in life to achieve their goals. “We are in the first stage of our adulthood,” she told them. “What we have done here in high school are only our first steps.”
Like many of her peers, Sarah Morris “felt lost in the system.” In her senior year of high school, she dropped out, but then realized she had made a grave error. She remembered Synergy and knew the class sizes were smaller, which enabled teachers to give additional attention to the students.
“Once I started at Synergy, coming to school felt more like coming home to an extended family,” she said in her speech. “As I look out and see everyone in their caps and gowns, I feel so proud that our dreams are one step closer to coming true.”