Common Ground’s Perseverance Class has crossed the threshold


Three years ago, Nouria Ntite couldn’t speak English. She only spoke French.

In less than a year, Ntite taught herself English to keep track of completing that year at Common Ground High School.

The 18-year-old Ntite crossed the stage with 48 other classmates at the opening ceremony of the environmentally friendly charging school on Friday evening. The graduates were given the name “Perseverance Class”.

Graduates’ tassels, balloons, and gowns waved in the gentle wind as staff and students detailed how the senior class was “the best class at Common Ground High School.”

Ntite was relocating to Common Ground for her sophomore year after immigrating to New Haven from central Africa.

To learn English, Ntite listened to television in English and listened carefully to her colleagues.

“If I didn’t get it, I would ask what the meaning is and how to spell the word,” she said.

Learn English however. wasn’t the hardest part of Ntite’s high school trip. Ntite had the most trouble staying motivated while studying remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We could only communicate by email, and it often took a while to get responses. It was like being alone for hours, ”she said.

Ntite plans to go to Gateway Community College to study biology, then go to the cardiology medical school she has dreamed of all her life.

Farewell speaker Darlenne Cazarin Berrios used the Nguni Bantu term Ubuntu, which means “I am because we are,” to describe her four-year journey with her peers and school staff.

Many of the student speakers took a trip back in time and shared their favorite moments at Common Ground, such as being the first grade to experience Core 9 and 10, their first jobs on campus, a freshman overnight, a night hike West Rock in slippers and pajamas, New Hampshire ski trips, a multicultural club visit to the New York wax museum, and college visits to help them find their next path.

Some speakers called their classmates by name to recognize their talents and bright future as surgeons and writers.

College and career teacher Brian Kelahan, who is retiring this school year, and assistant principal Monique Frasier presented students with five scholarship awards for excellence in leadership, perseverance and community building.

Graduates Antonio Robinson and Messiah Moore shared a scholarship in honor of Common Ground graduate and basketball player Christopher Franco who was hit by a car and killed while driving a scooter in 2019.

“In the best of times. Being a teenager isn’t easy, ”said Kelahan. “But this group of students has dealt with first love relationships, with hormones going wild, figuring out how to grow up, facing future life choices, just like all teenagers at other times. The Class of 2021 did so during a global pandemic, the unspeakable horror of an 8-minute 46-second video, and a riot that tried to overthrow the government. “

Babz Rawls-Ivy, editor of Inner City News, host of WNHH FM’s daily Love Babz Love Talk program, and chairman of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, gave some advice to the graduates and their parents in the urge of everyone.

Her advice to parents: “Let them relax a little.” And give your students time to think about their future.

She advised students to be true to themselves and “don’t bother your people.”

“If you go out into the world, you shouldn’t make it a worse place,” she added.

This year’s class received the greatest support from New Haven Promise, Kelahan said. Fifteen students received New Haven Promise and Passport to Promise scholarships. Seven graduates were sponsored by the New Haven Scholarship Foundation.

Check out the full ceremony below.


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