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Largo High top students address classmates
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Photo by JULIANA A. TORRES
Largo High School Valedictorian Tristan Brockwell, left, and salutatorian Haval Hakki.
LARGO – This year’s valedictorian of Largo High School will attend Yale University on a full scholarship this fall.

Tristan Brockwell had a long list of thanks to offer in the speech to his fellow graduates June 2, not the least of which was for the high school itself. He ended his speech with a message one of his classmates wrote in his yearbook.

“Go show that Ivy League school what it means to come from Larghetto,” he quoted. “It is absolutely with Packer Pride that I will be heading off to Yale.”

Brockwell, the only child of Robert and Barbara Brockwell, was born and raised in Largo. His list of academic accomplishments is only the beginning of why Yale invited him to their campus. Along with being a member of several honor societies, Brockwell is a National Advanced Placement Scholar, with high scores on all 12 of the Advanced Placement exams he took. His final GPA was 4.88. He represented Pinellas County in the State Academic Team Challenge.

He has kept busy by being involved in all three of the school’s fine arts programs: chorus, band and drama.

“From day one, I wanted to make the most of four years of school I have left. I had to make sure I hadn’t left any opportunities pass me by,” Brockwell said.

Brockwell is a percussionist in the band program. He played the Tin Man in the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz this year. But he blossomed most in chorus, he said.

“The choral program has been my real home. Mr. Renfroe does a great job really making that special for all of us,” he said.

Choral Director Bill Renfroe, who is retiring this year, introduced Brockwell during the graduation ceremony. Brockwell was a member of the acclaimed Madrigal Singers for the last three years and a two-time member of the All-State Chorus.

He admitted during his speech that his successes did not extend into sports.

“I figured out pretty quickly that the only way for me to get onto the Largo High School football field was to join the marching band,” he said. “And so cymbals in hand, I got to watch what I believe is the greatest high school football team play for the last four years.”

Brockwell intends to pursue a career in the medical field, perhaps in cellular biology or biophysics, he said. He also hopes to keep up his extracurricular activities.

“Yale has a fabulous music program. I’d love to be a part of it,” he said.

Brockwell encouraged his classmates to not let challenges pull them off course. He didn’t let being born deaf in his left ear slow him down, nor let the fact that the school administration wasn’t planning to offer AP physics stop him from rallying support to convince them otherwise.

Brockwell had one more message for the high school administration, which will be building an entirely new school over the next two years.

“I challenge you to ensure the infrastructure of the new Largo High School is as fabulous as the exterior is likely to be,” he said.

The salutatorian

Salutatorian Haval Hakki will attend the University of Florida in the fall and likely pursue a degree that will prepare him for a medical career, possibly in genetics.

He was the first to admit that his list of extracurricular activities was not as long as Brockwell’s.

“I’m not really a social person,” he said to his fellow graduates. “Frankly, I’m not the kind of person that would be giving such a big speech in front of, wow, hundreds of people.”

Hakki has lived in Largo most of his life. He is the oldest of four sons born to Istabrak and Hadi Hakki, Kurdish immigrants who came to the United States from Iraq to escape the Saddam Hussein regime.

During his career at Largo High School, Hakki took 14 Advanced Placement classes and had a final GPA of 4.61.

“I’ve always wanted to try my best in the academic aspect; I always like to challenge myself,” he said in an interview before graduation.

He said his best contributions to Largo High School were helping the school win first place in the county for a French Honor Society skit. It was a challenge to put together the performance within the parameters of the contest and time restraints at the time.

“There was not enough time, but we somehow got it done, and it was a miracle we did,” he said.

He is most appreciative of the teachers who offered him their best.

“Some of the teachers at Largo really put their heart and soul into their jobs, and it really shows,” he said.

He told his class that they would miss even those with whom he didn’t necessarily form deep relationships, but who were integral to his experience at Largo.

“You guys are what made Largo High School, Largo High School, if you catch what I’m saying,” he said with a smile.
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