NH Register Covers Wilbur Cross Graduation

9 New Haven high schools' grads celebrate​; 80% in class of 2011 to attend college​
By Abbe Smith, Register Staff
Coutesy of New Haven Register
NEW HAVEN — For newly minted Wilbur Cross High School graduate Adisa John, going to college is a family affair.

John came to the area from the Caribbean island of Dominica with her family when she was in the sixth grade. The family came to this country with only a basic education.

Now John is headed to Southern Connecticut State University to study sociology, her father is about to graduate from Gateway Community College and her sister just got her master’s degree from Texas A&M University.
“It’s just a dream come true,” the beaming graduate said as she lined up with classmates outside Woolsey Hall Thursday evening.

John was among 340 Cross graduates clad in red and blue robes who celebrated and cheered as they received diplomas.

In all, about 1,080 seniors from the city’s nine high schools earned diplomas at commencement ceremonies Thursday. Eighty percent of them are going to two- or four-year colleges next year.

In the first year of the district’s massive school reform initiative, Cross succeeded in reducing the number of seniors dropping out from 50 students last year to about 20 this year. As a result, the school will graduate 32 more students than last year.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr., whose two sons graduated from Cross years ago, told the graduates to be proud of their accomplishments.

“Remember the road you have traveled was laid down by parents and teachers who gave you a chance to be everything you can be,” he said.

At Cross, four students, including Valedictorian Lea Winter, are choosing to attend Yale University next year rather than go to other Ivy League schools to which they were accepted.

In her valedictory speech to classmates, Winter urged the graduates to celebrate “with Cross pride, the experiences we have shared and the global perspective we have developed.”

Winter also used her time on stage to deliver quotations from classmates who did not have an opportunity to be heard.

In addition to Cross, students received diplomas at James Hillhouse High School, Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, High School in the Community, Hill Regional Career High School, Hyde Leadership Academy, Metropolitan Business Academy, New Haven Academy and the Sound School.

Two of the district’s high schools, New Haven Academy and Metropolitan Business Academy, will send all of this year’s graduates on to higher education. Hillhouse High School, the city’s second-largest high school with about 162 graduates, has 94 percent going to college.

Valedictorians this year are Winter at Cross, Chantal McHayle at Hillhouse, Leah Gimbel at Coop, Maria Arnold at HSC, Lynette Perez at Career, and Stephano Luzzi and Jose Rosario at Metro.

New Haven Academy, Sound School and Hyde Leadership Academy do not have valedictorians.