Every graduation is a wonderful and special occasion, but I hold a particular pride and sense of respect for the more than 60 young men and women who walked the stage at the Georgia World Congress Center last night to get their high school diplomas.
These newly inducted graduates had many and varied reasons for why they were not able to walk with their classmates during the regular commencement ceremonies last May. Personal or family issues. Health complications. Lack of qualifying graduation credits. In truth, many could have simply given up on a high school diploma; in fact, many students did.
But these students persevered.
They stayed in school. They earned credits through our online West End Academy program. They attended summer school. All that work to earn those final, vital credits for graduation and the privilege to become members of the Class of 2015 for Atlanta Public Schools.
I am proud of every single one of them, and I am inspired by their touching stories of triumphs and accomplishments.
From the Eagles of B.E.S.T. Academy, we have a class where nearly every young man will continue their education at colleges and universities across the nation. From the Panthers of Carver and Eagles of Crim, we have students who took advantages of second chances to graduate and now have bright futures ahead in college, military service or the workforce.
The Astros of Douglass, the Jaguars of Jackson and the Raiders of Mays would make all of their namesakes proud with their determination and commitment to service.
The Hornets of South Atlanta, the Panthers of Therrell and the Bulldogs of Washington have graduates who can make claims as the first in their families to attend college.
And the Grey Knights of Grady and the Warriors of North Atlanta can relate tales of overcoming the odds and health issues so they could walk the stage last night.
All of these graduates will embark soon on new beginnings armed with the lessons, experiences and friendships developed at APS along with the support of family, teachers and the community.
We wish them all the best of luck. We are definitely proud of them, and we will miss them.