HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Gil Simmons is on the go and he’s heading to Hamden!
Gil is heading to different high schools all month long as part of his homecoming tour.
On Friday, he visited Hamden High School. The school was built in 1935 and is home to the Green Dragons.
Some alumni from the school include World Champion Skier, Jen Hudak, and Oakland Raiders player Antajj Hawthorne.
Nadine Gannon has been principal for seven years. She expressed her excitement to show-off both the students and staff at HHS.
HHS’s National Honor Society, just one organization at the school, is all about greatness. One student in the society, Paulina, said the group is really active both in and out of school, noting that it’s important to “try to put your best effort into everything you do.”
Jefferey, a senior at HHS, represented the school’s marching band. He said the band competed against both Maloney and Lyman Hall high schools.
The dance team students are 15-times state champions and placed both fifth and 10th at Nationals last year.
“This year, we’ve had a great start,” Principal Gannon said. “The kids are so engaged and so excited to be here. Getting really back to our traditions.”
Superintendent Gary Highsmith said he’s very proud of the Green Dragons’ students and staff, noting that “we’ve got the best high school principal.”
The school is starting to get back to normal following the height of the pandemic.
“COVID is still around,” Superintendent Highsmith said. “We’re resilient, we’re strong, we’re back in-person. If you look around, people are close to each other again. It’s great to see it and great to be back.”
There are several college credit dual-enrollment programs at HHS that work with Gateway Community College to help students get a head-start in their post-high school careers.
The Hamden Engineering Careers Academy allows students learn about engineering and manufacturing careers. If students finish the program, they end up with an associate’s degree by the time they finish high school. Additionally, they’ll have two years of college credits completed, which they could apply to an engineering career, or head into the workforce with a high-paying job.
“It’s great,” instructor Gabe Jenkins said of the program. “The kids are great, they’re really working hard in the program and they’re going to be ready for the future.”
The HHS Nursery is a way for students to get their foot in the door to teaching. One student in the program who hopes to be an elementary teacher, Stephanie, said the progressive course helps them towards a student teacher position. Each day, they get the chance to teach students in the nursery.
Advanced Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management gives students six college credits: three with culinary and three with baking, along with a ServSafe certification.
In addition to the college credit programs, there are also classes that help prepare students for life after school. One of those classes, marketing, helps students get a taste of the corporate world. Teacher Nancy Papa said the class offers a lot of “life skills.”
One of the marketing students said the class focuses on the business world, focusing on finance and start-up plans. Another student noted that the class will help them find jobs in the future.
Other school organizations include MainStage, who will perform ‘Pride and Prejudice’ next weekend, as well as Interact Club, a community service group.
The Class of 2024 class officers have been planning the school homecoming since last year. Now, they’re ready to kick-off “a night under the stars” Saturday night.
“You can expect a lot of glitter, a lot of glitz, and lights,” the class historian said.
The anatomy class is working to plant banana trees. There are turtles, fish, and other animals in their greenhouse, as well as several plants. This class helps students who hope to pursue a career in environmental science. Instructor Raffaele Romano said it keeps kids excited and learning.
Stay tuned next week as Gil heads to John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury