It’s official. It’s late on Friday at the Georgia World Congress Center. And the last of the Atlanta Public Schools’ Classes of 2016 – an enthusiastic gathering of newly conferred graduates from Alonzo Crim High School – has left the building.
Throughout the week, APS family and friends came together in 12 different ceremonies to celebrate the hard work, the perseverance and the dedication of nearly 2,400 young men and women who completed their high school careers over the 2015-2016 school year.
There are too many individual stories to recount in this blog space – indeed, there are almost 2,400 of them – but the story of this class is one of grit, resilience and strength.
And what strength! Strength enough to teach even me … the grit and resilience required to survive and thrive in our school and district environments can even take my breath away. This class of students has taught ME about facing setbacks and overcoming obstacles. Throughout the year, I often looked to them for perspective and for a reason to bounce back and then move forward again.
And this class has achieved.
The 2016 graduating class has nine Gates Millennium Scholars, nine Posse Scholars and 12 APS Georgia Tech Scholars. This class has earned more than $118 million in scholarship money (and counting), a figure that is $7 million more than the previous class. Additionally, nearly 800 APS seniors qualified for the inaugural Achieve Atlanta scholarship that provides “last dollar assistance” to low-income students attending two-year and four-year colleges or technical programs.
But their work, their lives, have only begun as graduation and commencement do not suggest an end. Not at all. In the words of my beloved mentee, Qwantayvious Stiggers, valedictorian of B.E.S.T. Academy: “Do not throw away your shot!”
With their high school diplomas in hand, many of our graduates are off to the workforce, prepared to start their careers. Others have stepped up to the challenge of joining the armed services, and we are so proud of their commitment to our country. Finally, many members of the Class of 2016 have decided to continue their education in college or technical schools. I have no doubt they will excel as they did in high school.
Whichever paths these graduates have chosen, I can only hope that they will take all of their lessons, experiences and friendships with them.
But for now, I want them to take a moment to celebrate in the works and honors they have achieved.
For all of us, APS has provided many ways to relive the spirit of graduation. We have an archive of live streams available at http://livestream.com/k12aps/. My APS colleagues and I have posted hundreds of images and videos on Twitter. My handle is @atlsuper; the district’s is @apsupdate.
Also, I’ve collected a sampling of my favorite new memories and have shared them in the galleries below. (Click school names for even more photos on the Atlanta Public Schools web site!) Enjoy! Congratulations again to the newly minted graduates of the Class of 2016.
Daniel M. Therrell High School, Tuesday, May 24
KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, Tuesday, May 24
Maynard H. Jackson High School, Wednesday, May 25
North Atlanta High School, May 26
Booker T. Washington High School, May 26
Henry W. Grady High School, May 26
Benjamin E. Mays High School, May 26
South Atlanta High School, May 27
Frederick Douglass High School, May 27
Alonzo Crim High School, May 27