20 Grads: Strive for Greatness

20 Grads in 20 Days: June marks a huge anniversary in Connecticut. Twenty years ago this month, Governor John Rowland signed the law allowing public charter schools to exist in the state of Connecticut! To celebrate, we’re profiling 20 public charter school graduates every day for the first 20 days of June. Enjoy reading about our charter schools and the stellar kids they're educating.

For Sahim Hasan, an eighth grader at Highville Charter School, excelling both on the field and in the classroom are a way of life.

Since childhood, Sahim has been developing a work ethic that is second to none. He started with six years of pop warner football, where he received a leadership award each year and won the MVP three times. 

Following that up with the New Haven Steelers football program, he’s continued focusing on both football and basketball as he works toward his dream of becoming a professional athlete.

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In the classroom, Sahim has pushed himself as a scholar. “Getting on the honor roll is my proudest moment. I make sure I’m always paying attention in class, striving for greatness, studying, and trying my best.” 

Even after getting sick with an infection in elementary school, which forced him out of the classroom for an extended period of time, Sahim made up for lost time and caught up to his classmates. As someone who struggled with reading early on, he’s proud to have recently received a reading award at school.

Sahim’s favorite teacher, Mr. Blake, teaches his favorite subject, math. “He doesn’t only teach schoolwork, but also teaches life lessons and tries to lead you on the right path,” said Sahim. “Math makes you use your brain – I like the difficulty of it. When you get an answer correct, you feel proud.” 

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His father, Saladin Hasan, says his son’s accomplishments and future-focused drive make him, his wife, and Sahim’s two siblings very proud.

“We love him and appreciate him for all the hard work he does and the sacrifices he makes – for choosing to stay focused and stay on the grind, so that he can be successful in life and make sure his life has meaning.”

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Sahim (right) with his father, Saladin. 

Sahim wants to give back to the greater New Haven community. If he doesn’t end up becoming an athlete, he wants to be an entrepreneur. “I want to give the kids in New Haven more activities by making a sports-plex in the city. Kids don’t have anything else to do, which is why there’s violence. I keep busy by working out, playing sports, and staying in school, I want to give other children that opportunity.” 

As Sahim gets ready to graduate from Highville’s middle school, he looks back at how the school has influenced his life for the better. “Having been here since PreK, it feels like a second home. Highville made me into the person I am today.”

He’ll be attending Highville Change Academy next year, plans on applying to Chesire Academy to play football and basketball, and wants to eventually end up at the University of Connecticut. Sahim has a clear plan for his future – with his focus and determination, he’ll accomplish everything he wants to, and more.

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Mike is the former Deputy Communications Director for Connecticut for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
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20 Grads: Strive for Greatness
20 Grads: Strive for Greatness
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