Congratulations, Grad Nation – APS Class of 2017!

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It’s official. It’s late on Friday at the Georgia World Congress Center. And all of the Atlanta Public Schools’ Classes of 2017 – supported by spirited and loving gatherings of parents, caregivers and other family members as well as teachers, principals and friends  – have left the building.

Operation Grad Nation was a smashing success! #APSGrad17

IMG_6100-SIt is during this week – Graduation Week 2017 – that we truly live the Atlanta Public Schools Mission: Graduating students ready for college and career. So many beautiful moments when we saw our students – our community’s sons and daughters, grandchildren and godchildren, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends – walk across the stage in their splendid school colors.

In those moments, we all came together as family to cheer our children – our newly minted graduates! – into the future. And it is rewarding to know that so many of the students worked so hard against some unbelievable odds. No matter the circumstances or individual stories – and yes, there are approximately 2,400 of them – they made it to the stage for graduation this week.

And this class has achieved.

IMG_5759-SThe 2016 graduating class has 10 Posse Scholars, 11 Georgia Scholars and 16 APS Georgia Tech Scholars. This class has earned well over $100 million in scholarship money (and counting). Additionally, nearly 800 APS seniors earned the Achieve Atlanta scholarship up to $20,000 each 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.

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 2017 have decided to continue their education in college or technical schools. I have no doubt they will excel as they did in high school.

IMG_3069Whichever 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. Of course, the first stop is to visit our main page at www.atlantapublicschools.us/GradNation for archived video and media galleries of every ceremony. My APS colleagues and I have posted hundreds of images and videos on FacebookInstagram and 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. Enjoy! Congratulations again to the newly minted graduates of the Class of 2017.

Charles Drew Charter School, Saturday, May 20

Alonzo Crim High School, Tuesday, May 23

Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy/B.E.S.T. Academy, Tuesday, May 23

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, Wednesday, May 24

Frederick Douglass High School, Wednesday, May 24

South Atlanta High School, Wednesday, May 24

Booker T. Washington High School, Thursday, May 25

Henry W. Grady High School, Thursday, May 25

Benjamin E. Mays High School, Thursday, May 25

Carver High School/Early College/School of Technology, Friday, May 26

North Atlanta High School, Friday, May 26

Maynard H. Jackson High School, Friday, May 26

Daniel M. Therrell High School, Friday May 26

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