The 77 members of the University High School of Science and Engineering’s Class of 2012 walked proudly across the Lincoln Theater stage on Wednesday evening, June 13, to accept their diplomas. And they had every right to be proud — all 77 members will be going on to two- or four-year colleges and universities, they had been awarded nearly $3 million in scholarships, and one of their classmates (Charles Wentzell) had earned the first National Merit Scholar in school history.
In addition, it was recently announced that the University High School of Science and Engineering (UHSSE) had received the Secondary School of Merit Award from Magnet Schools of America (MSA), after having been previously been selected by MSA as a Magnet School of Excellence.
University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, who spoke at the graduation ceremony, referred back to the planning that went into starting this school when he said that, “Never did we dare to dream that this would be the best magnet high school in the country.”
In his remarks, President Harrison also noted that he was proud to welcome 14 members of the Class of 2012 to the University’s Class of 2016. Among the other schools that the members of the Class of 2012 are headed are: Morehouse College. Colby-Sawyer College, North Carolina A&T State University, the University of Connecticut, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
“Our class is unique and, without question, unforgettable,” said Yasmine Ali, the class speaker. “When I think of the people who make up the Encore Class, I am certain I am among people who will change the world, We have future politicians, leaders and teachers, the world’s future doctors who will work without borders, dancers, architects, engineers, athletes, and designers. We have entrepreneurs who will work to better our communities and astronauts who will discover wonders among the stars. We have the amazing spirits of girls and boys who dare to live as dreamers and believers.”
Bo-Edward Lawrence, who gave a spoken word performance with Ashley Richards, told his fellow graduates that “We have been dormant for years, hiding our talents and inspiration just waiting to spark and brighten the nights. The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match and each one of us is a fuse.”
The keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony was Matt Fleury, president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center. He talked the students about the choices that lay ahead of them and the twists and turns that their career paths may take. “Embrace the exciting reality that what you have earned under those graduation caps is a very powerful toolbox with which to navigate all of possibilities for your future,” he said. “Every experience going forward is an opportunity to practice and hone those capabilities and enjoy that process.”
UHSSE opened on the University of Hartford's Asylum Avenue campus in 2004, making the University of Hartford the only private university in the nation to have two public magnet schools on its campuses. (The University of Hartford Magnet School, a pre-K through grade five school, opened in 2001). In 2009, University High School moved into a new building on Mark Twain Drive, on the University's main campus.
UHSSE was founded on the "Early College" model, in which qualified students can take college courses and earn credits for college while still attending high school. Fifty-one UHSSE students took classes at the University of Hartford during this past academic year.