107th Commencement Heralds Community and Connectivity
The school’s 107th Commencement Exercises featured blue skies, standing room only, and 86 graduates, all of whom have contributed to the well-being of the school community via their academic pursuits and overall participation.
If there was one theme that pervaded the variety of speeches throughout the evening it was community and connectivity – all of which are inherent on our campus.
“Hamden Hall has driven us to improve not only ourselves but the community around us. I’m proud of what our grade has accomplished. I know that we will take what we’ve learned and what we have done here with us as we move on,” said valedictorian Autumn Boyce.
Autumn, who was named Hamden Hall’s Youth of the Year during Prize Day, is continuing her education at North Carolina State University as one of 40 of the school’s prestigious Park Scholars.
Salutatorian Kirsten Mettler noted the support she’s experienced while at Hamden Hall, which she entered in second grade. By grade six, she was petitioning the administration to add Mandarin to the seventh-grade world language offerings – a goal at which she succeeded.
“The Hamden Hall community made me feel loved and important and like I was capable of doing something pretty cool,” said Shaw, who will continue her education at Stanford University in the fall.
Longtime Hamden Hall Board of Trustees member and dedicated community leader and activist Kyle Ballou-Johns was the 2019 Commencement keynote speaker. Kyle, who is the vice president of Yale New Haven Health’s Community and Government Relations, advised students that they could literally reinvent themselves at this point as the word “commencement” means a new beginning.
“Connect with every person and every opportunity possible. Really connect. Connect as a human. Connect with your community, connect with this earth. When you connect, you become a uniter, not a divider,” said Kyle.
Student Government Vice President Joshua Brause, who will attend Colby College in the fall, offered welcoming remarks during the ceremony. Class gifts were distributed by Senior Class co-presidents Jaxon Alston and William Porto, who also presented the Medal of Distinction to his grandfather and avid Hamden Hall supporter Carl M. Porto Sr.
Only the third recipient of the Medal of Distinction, Carl Sr. has been a member of the Hamden Hall community since enrolling his oldest son, Carl II, in the school in 1977. Eventually, all three of the Porto boys (Carl II 1986, Joseph 1989, and Mark 1994) were enrolled at Hamden Hall followed by the enrollment of two grandsons at the school.
Carl joined the Hamden Hall Board of Trustees in 1983 and is now retiring from his board service.
The Hamden Hall Class of 2019 features 11 Lifers, six seniors who are the children of Hamden Hall alumni, and 12 student-athletes who will pursue sports competitively in college.
Head of School Bob Izzo left the new alumni with some parting words.
“Graduates, you have excelled in every area of school life – in the classroom, on the stage, in the community, in athletic and musical competitions. You were challenged by your teachers and coaches – and you met those challenges,” he said. “You’ve received a world class education by a world class faculty. I know I speak for the entire faculty when I tell you that we are all very proud of you and wish you the very best in everything you do. Just remember that you will always be part of Hamden Hall and Hamden Hall will always be part of you.”
Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.