Bullied Wallingford student opts not to graduate with class

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WALLINGFORD --  Lyman Hall High School holds its commencement ceremonies Friday evening, but one student has already received her diploma.

Dating back to middle school, Mackenzie Torcello didn't like going to school.

"The bullying, the making fun of, the name calling, the just, I didn't feel comfortable being near them," said the 2017 graduate of Lyman Hall High School.

She said her peers made her feel "terrible, like worthless."​

Instead of spending her senior year in a classroom, at Lyman Hall High School, the school system provided tutoring at the local library.

"It was so much easier like just not having to worry about what people are going to say or do," said Mackenzie Torcello, who is on the Autism spectrum.

There would be no prom and Mackenzie also didn't want to graduate with her class.

"It was heartbreaking because it was just one more thing that she didn't participate in," said her mother, Priscilla Torcello.

The school system arranged for a private graduation ceremony, held Wednesday afternoon for Mackenzie. Her mother was overjoyed.

"Her teachers were there. Her counselors were there. It was a really, it was just really a great day," she said.

"I felt special," said a beaming Mackenzie Torcello. "They did it. They went out of their way just to do it for me."

The Wallingford school system said they wanted to make certain that McKenzie's significant accomplishment was both personalized and memorable.

"This went a long way not only with her but with our family in how we view the school system because they didn't have to do that," said Priscilla Torcello, who hopes her daughter's story will empower others battling bullying.

"Speak up," she said. "Make sure you're heard."

"I definitely suggest talking to people about it (bullying) because it helps," said Mackenzie Torcello, who is looking to frame up a future in still photography.