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Tuesday, July 23 News

Lamont gives Harding High a shout-out as he takes office

HARTFORD — Bridgeport’s Harding High School got frequent shout-outs from Gov. Ned Lamont during his inaugural addresses on Wednesday.

“From here, we march to the Capitol with the Foot Guard, who have been hosting the inauguration for 250 years, accompanied by Bridgeport’s Harding High School Marching Band,” Lamont said minutes after taking the oath of office at the State Armory. “I was a volunteer teacher there many years ago, but I remember those kids like yesterday.”

Lamont promised as governor to work tirelessly to ensure that all children have the greatest opportunities to thrive, succeed and create a life of their own in Connecticut.

A couple of hours later, during his first State of the State address before a joint session of the General Assembly, Lamont brought up his ties to Harding again, talking about the school’s transition to a new building in the fall.

“Their old high school was pretty beat up, but you should have seen the excitement in the eyes of the students and their parents and teachers on opening day at the new Harding High,” Lamont said. “In showing the students that we believed in them, they showed pride in themselves and their school.”

Lamont said he saw the same sense of optimism in the eyes of students he taught at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain for 12 years.

The new governor made a point to praise the state’s teachers in his address, calling them the finest in the country.

Beyond fixing the state’s budget “once and for all,” Lamont said attracting top talent to the state will take an investment in its urban centers, equipping them with great schools, safe streets and the first with 5G, the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications, in New England.

“Like those kids at Harding High who believed in themselves, I believe in Connecticut,” Lamont said.

He called for more training in STEM fields, coding and access to higher education but did not offer many details.

That did not dampen the spirit of Bridgeport City Council President Aidee Nieves, who said the frequent mention of Harding shows Lamont is really committed to the city of Bridgeport.

“We will hold him to it,” Nieves said as she exited the House chamber after the address.

Deputy Speaker Christopher Rosario, D-Bridgeport, agreed, adding he liked the highlight to urban centers and praise to teachers.

“There is a fun nature about him,” Rosario said of Lamont. “Dan (Malloy) was a little bit of a hard charger whereas Gov. Lamont looks like he is going to have an open door.”

The Harding marching band that participated in the inauguration is actually a drum line that was only re-instituted last year by Dane Brown, the school’s principal. Despite severe ongoing budget cuts, Brown converted a teaching vacancy into a music teaching position.

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The nine-member unit, dressed in blue and gold, kicked off the parade around the State Capitol led by their teacher, Dale Baldwin.

Lamont’s brief tenure as a volunteer at Harding occurred in 2005. More recently, he made a $5,000 contribution to the school’s football team for equipment. The Greenwich millionaire has also helped bankroll honor roll events at the school.

Earlier Wednesday, in his remarks from the well of the State Senate Chambers, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, also listed a superb public education as necessary for a sensible, responsible, well managed government.

“So that an inquisitive child can grow up to become a scholar, a physician, an architect, an inventor of transformative technology or a member of this General Assembly,” said Looney, who has been in the senate since 1993.

lclambeck@ctpost.com; twitter/lclambeck

Linda Conner Lambeck|Education Reporter

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