Provost Academy South Carolina awarded diplomas to the seventh graduating class in the school’s history on June 17 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. One hundred twenty-eight students were awarded diplomas, with more expected at the close of the summer school session.
Specializing in the S.T.E.M. program, (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), Provost Academy was established in 2009, as one of the first public charter online high schools in the state.
Robert “Donnie” Pritchard, “Student of the Year”, gave the welcome speech; Milner Martin, Salutatorian, gave the Farewell Speech to the graduates; and Alexandra McKibbin, number three in the graduating class, led everyone in the pledge of allegiance and sang the national anthem.
On June 10, thirty-one students received their high school diplomas from the Capital High and Road to Success Bridgescape Learning Academies in Columbus, Ohio. Liban Behi was recognized as Valedictorian from Capital High; and Road to Success honored Shianne Jeffers as Valedictorian, and Shaquille Samuels as Salutatorian.
In addition to family and friends, a number of graduates were joined at the ceremony by their children.
In his remarks to the graduates, Thom Jackson commended them for overcoming “difficult challenges” to become high school graduates. He stated,
“This is not a usual graduation ceremony. Because in fact, it is a ceremony that celebrates a truly unique form of success and achievement; success that was best described by the foremost African-American leader and educator, who was born a slave – Booker T. Washington: ‘Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.’”
Thom further said to the graduates,
“You are to be congratulated not only for your academic success, but for your determination to persevere above and beyond difficult life circumstances to earn their high school diploma. Some of you have stood up to bullying. Some of you dropped everything to help take care of a child or ailing family member. Some, due to your economic situation, were forced to set aside your education.”
In concluding his remarks, he said,
“I also want you to realize that not only have you defied the odds -- not only have you shown your resolve, perseverance, and tenacity -- each one of you has given the gift of hope to every student who will come through the doors of a Bridgescape Academy after you. You are proving that hard work pays off.”
DURHAM -- Graduates of Durham’s Performance Learning Center and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy were urged Tuesday to “cherish the moment” by guest speaker Rob Boyd, a noted financial leadership coach.
Boyd, a Northern High School graduate who went on to earn degrees at Howard and Georgetown universities, also asked the graduates and their guests to take out their cell phones and to take selfies to remember the moment. “This picture will be a moment in time to revisit in the future to remind yourself of where you’re going in life,” Boyd said during the graduation ceremony held at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on the N.C. Central University campus.
Thirty-seven students graduated from the Performance Learning Center (PLC) and another 12 from the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy (MJBA). As is the tradition for both programs, significant people in the students’ lives accompanied them across the stage to receive their diplomas while short student bios and future plans were read by program officials.
Many of the graduates have plans to attend Durham Technical Community College to gain work skills or course credits to transfer to a four-year college. Six of the graduates earned enough high school credits to graduate a year early.
Senteria Trueluck was the Class of 2016 valedictorian and Greta Marie West the salutatorian.
Boyd, who has spoken at Microsoft, Howard University and other prestigious companies and universities, said being able to return home to speak to Tuesday’s graduates was the most rewarding.
“This is by far the most meaningful opportunity I’ve had to speak,” Boyd said. “This is the first time that I’ve actually spoken in the city that I’m from.” Boyd said Durham is the city that made him. But he warned that it’s also a city that can deal a person significant setbacks.
He urged the graduates must think deeply about their futures. “Many of the adults in your life are unhappy with who they have become,” Boyd said. “They’re unhappy with what they do every day. It’s not because they’re bad people, it’s because they value the opinions of others.”
He offered the graduates a cheat-code to help them navigate life after graduation. “Don’t focus so much on what you want to do, focus on who you want to become,” Boyd said.
GARY — Dancing, chanting, selfies and embraces were the theme of the night for the 51 graduating seniors of Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy on Friday.
The graduates adjusted one another's outfits, went over speeches and danced off their nerves before being presented to family and friends.
Graduates shared advice for the underclassmen.
“When anyone tells you that you can't, that's your key word to push harder,” said National Honor Society graduate Chardinae Adams.
“No one can choose your destiny, but you stay strong and no matter what they say about you, push yourself to succeed,” Cary Martin said.
Principal Donna Henry welcomed and thanked the parents and guardians of the graduates for all of their hard work and involvement in the students' lives.
“The Class of 2016 are excellent examples of role models, mentors, and have set the bar high,” she said. “Yes, they have experienced tough times, but those moments are the very thing that has shaped them to the strong, independent individuals they are today. I know the Cass of 2016 will do great things for the world and their communities.”
School faculty member Jamie Wolverton introduced salutatorian Matayzia Hughes. Wolverton had trouble holding back tears during her introduction.
“From your current location, insert greatness as the destination of your GPS,” Hughes said. “I do not mean global positioning satellite, I mean GPS as in Great Problem Survivor. There will be great obstacles which we must overcome, but with sheer determination we will all make it.”
Valedictorian Princess Tucker expressed how making an effort to talk with the dean of students on several occasions helped change her life around.
“Previously, I attended Theodore Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy as a seventh- and eighth-grader,” Tucker said. “I personally was a mess. I tended to fight and act buck wild on a daily basis. However, when Edison Learning brought along Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy, I became a better individual.”
Tucker closed her speech with some final words of wisdom.
“You owe it to yourself to be the best that you can be because when you are not your best, others are less than they should or could be.”
Graduating seniors who were recognized were: Valedictorian, Princess Tucker; Salutatorian, Matayzia Hughes; Principal’s Award (Consistent Exemplification of the EdisonLearning 8 Core Values), Gary Davis; and the Superintendent’s Award (Consistent Exemplification of Leadership), Matayzia Hughes.
The holiday we celebrate this coming Monday had its origin at a time when the United States was still very much a divided country. In the aftermath of the Civil War, “Decoration Day”- as it was originally called - was observed in only the northern states. Union veterans’ organizations called for the decoration of only the graves of those who fought and died for the Union. Not until after World War 1 was “Memorial Day” designated to honor Americans who died fighting in all of our wars.
Throughout the one hundred and fifty-one years since the United States was reunited into one common country, we have strived to eliminate any fragments of being separate and unequal in all aspects of American society. During this time, there have been a number of seminal events that reshaped the social and political fabric of America. Most are not as well-known today as they were at the time they occurred. Many have not even been mentioned in history textbooks. Yet, they were significant as to how they forced America to look at itself; and define freedom, equality, and our way of life.
One such event took place sixty-two years ago this month, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ended legalized racial segregation in all American schools. The impact of the following words – “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” - resonated far beyond the classroom as it provided impetus and momentum for the Civil Rights Movement, and the later passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In the ensuing years, our nation should be able to stand together proudly and marvel at all that has been accomplished to break down barriers to ensure that ALL our children have an opportunity to be participants in today's knowledge economy. Yet in truth, the pages of history have been turned back, and what is old, is now new again.
In addition to voluminous studies and reports citing growing disparities in the achievement gap, school funding, and disciplinary actions relating to Black and minority students in comparison to their white peers – the following headline appeared last week in news outlets throughout the county:
“Judge orders Mississippi school district to desegregate, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education.”
As an organization fully committed to improving the achievement outcomes of all students, we are all too aware that many public education systems around the country provide fewer resources to schools serving low-income and disadvantaged students. We also know that strong preconceptions exist that due to some students’ socio-economic circumstances; it is assumed that they will not finish school, will not find a decent job, and will never go to college.
Our Vision and Mission is in many ways linked to the precepts established by Brown v Board of Education, as our work is committed to ensuring equal educational opportunities for all children. So it is essential for all of us to understand that this commitment is not simply a collection of words for marketing purposes. It is who we are, and what we stand for. Therefore, even in the course of our hectic daily workplace activities, we cannot lose sight of the role we play in positively impacting the lives and futures of thousands of young people.
Consider as we honor and commemorate the more than 1.3 million Americans who paid the ultimate price fighting for our country; that there is no racial designation or income status noted on their grave markers. At the moment they were giving the last full measure of devotion to their country – there was no “Separate” – there was no “Unequal” - just “Americans”.
Together, we are a piece of thread in the massive fabric which is America. Let us do all we can to eliminate “Separate” and “Unequal” from the educational lexicon; and in doing so, honor those who gave their all to guarantee the founding principle of our nation that “All Men Are Created Equal”.