June 8, 2017

Simon Youth Academy

Students from Simon Youth Academy (SYA) graduated June 4 inside the Indianapolis Artsgarden at Circle Center Mall. 

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Another successful IPS graduation season is in the
books! Students walked across the stage — most on June 8 and 9 — in front of family, friends and other well-wishers to receive their high
school diplomas. It was the end of a four-year journey and the beginning
of the next phase in their lives, which includes heading off to colleges or
universities, leaving for basic training as the newest recruits in our armed
services, or becoming part of the workforce. The graduation ceremonies — through tears of joy, hugs
and lots of smiles — offered the perfect platform for moving words of
wisdom and encouragement from a host of guest speakers (including local
pastors, TV anchors and CEOs). It was also a chance for our schools’ valedictorians
and salutatorians to motivate their classmates before going their separate
ways. Here are highlights from our ceremonies: ARLINGTON COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL

2017 Arlington Graduation

The 55th commencement ceremony
at Arlington Community High School included a performance of “Like I’m Gonna
Lose You,” an original song from the school choir to their peers that spoke of
living each day with no regrets.

It was a fitting song at
a graduation in which many of the students overcame various obstacles along their
high school journey. Students like class valedictorian Justin Smith, who was
homeless at one point during his senior year. Tears were shed as students sat
on the edge of their seats listening attentively to Justin as he thanked family,
friends, counselors and teachers who believed in him and helped him reach this
milestone.

Principal Stanley Law was
joined by Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee and
Board Commissioner Venita Moore. While at the podium, Dr. Ferebee
encouraged students to push themselves to be strong and triumphant despite
adversity.

Keynote speaker, Pastor
Jeffrey A. Johnson II (Eastern Star Church) reminded graduates, “The best
thing about being a senior is being able to make decisions that will impact
your entire life. It is important for you to dream and dream big, set goals and
achieve those goals.”ARSENAL TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL

2017 Arsenal Tech Graduation

There was
both nervous energy and sheer joy inside the cafeteria at Arsenal Tech as the
2017 graduates prepared to take the long walk through the courtyard to the gymnasium
for the school’s 103rd commencement ceremony.

Through a
series of performances and presentations, and a motivational keynote speech
from FOX59 anchor Tanae Howard about perseverance and beating the odds, Tech’s
salutatorian Daniela Lopez provided her peers and the audience with the
motivation needed to go out and conquer the world. Lopez, who
recounted her journey from Mexico to the United States at age 2, said
she’s fully aware society portrays her as an “immigrant, minority,
undocumented, female, first-generation, Mexican.” These negative connotations create a barrier between her reality and dreams. But she said those assumptions
and stereotypes basically come down to a choice everyone faces: What side
of the wall do you want to be on? “Stereotypes
and judgments help to build walls brick by brick. But we have the opportunity
to rise up and destroy that wall, which stops us from becoming what we’re meant
to be,” said Daniela. “I will use my faith, determination, passion and
education to tear the wall down. These tools are available to all of us to
prove to society that we are here to make a change.” The crowd of
well-wishers, and its graduating seniors, went wild with applause and cheers. Between the 200-plus
graduates, Tech’s seniors earned more than $11 million in scholarships.

BROAD RIPPLE MAGNET HIGH SCHOOL FOR
THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES

2017 Broad Ripple Graduation

The mellow
sounds of the band playing an Adele tune rang throughout the Gene Poston
Auditorium at Broad Ripple High School as graduates swayed and danced their way
to the auditorium doors, preparing for their grand entrance. The crowd
roared in celebration as the students marched in. But it was valedictorian
Andres Calvillo who garnered the loudest applause. Calvillo
confidently approached the podium and addressed his classmates by asking a
simple question: What motivates you? “If you
answer with family, self, success, knowledge or even an alarm clock then you’re
on the right track,” said Calvillo, who’s heading to IUPUI in the fall to study
informatics. “If you answered with nothing, nobody or I don’t know, then you aren’t
being honest with yourself or the people you care about most. You wouldn’t be
sitting where you’re sitting, wearing what you’re wearing or living in this
moment if you weren’t motivated by that one thing that keeps you going.” The Class of
2017 had 200-plus graduates, including 32 who graduated with academic honors,
and nearly $4 million dollars in scholarship money combined. CRISPUS ATTUCKS MEDICAL MAGNET HIGH
SCHOOL

2017 Crispus Attucks Graduation

The students
filed out of the cafeteria at Crispus Attucks, outside the building, down the
sidewalk and past teachers — exchanging high fives, hugs and cheers before lining
up for the processional to “Pomp and Circumstance.” “Being able
to graduate today is very rich. I know everyone goes through it, but you really
don’t understand it until you go
through it,” said Yaves Williams, one of the graduates. During the
ceremony, guest speaker Dr. Nichole Wilson, executive director of sports medicine,
physical therapy and rehab for Community Health Network, offered the graduates
her tips for success. “Knowing my
worth, hustling to the top, lifting as I climb and no fake love is why I’m here
today. Keep these tips in mind and I look forward to seeing you at the top,”
said Dr. Wilson. Collectively,
the 128 Attucks graduates earned $8 million dollars in scholarships. Nearly 100
of the graduates have been accepted to college.

GEORGE WASHINGTON COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL

2017 George Washington Graduation

As the George
Washington graduates prepared for their walk into the purple-and-white
decorated auditorium, there were looks of excitement, joy and even fear on
their faces. As one student put it, graduation is the beginning of their lives. Inside were friends
and family members of the 60-plus graduates. Keynote speaker Ahmed
Young from the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation challenged the graduates
by asking the Class of 2017, “If you stand for nothing, what will you fall
for?” However, the most
moving moment of the night was when each graduate’s statement of thankfulness
was read aloud. Many graduates thanked their families and some praised their
teachers for helping them make it this far. At the end, all of the graduates met outside on the stairwell
and threw their caps in unison to finalize their last day as George Washington
seniors!

JOHN
MARSHALL COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL

2017 John Marshall Graduation

The JROTC, percussion band and schools choir kicked things off
at John Marshall’s commencement ceremony for its 71 graduating seniors.

Keynote speaker Pastor Corey Duncan Sr. provided an inspirational
message that got the crowd going, but it was salutatorian Anissa Davis who brought most of the them to tears.

Through her own tears, Anissa said she honestly didn’t expect to
“get this far and I am so glad to stand before you tonight. … When I first came
to John Marshall, I was bouncing back from rough times. My sixth grade year was
not my best and I feel like other people stopped believing in me. When others
around me at school seemed to question my potential, it took a toll on my
confidence. I felt like I was behind all the other students and I started to
believe it. But I am thankful for my mom. She believed in me when others
didn’t. She tried to lift me up when others tried to bring me down.”

It was definitely a moving night!

NORTHWEST COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL

2017 Northwest Graduation

The
graduating seniors of Northwest High Community School could hardly contain their joy as
they congregated in the school cafeteria with less than one hour remaining
before their commencement ceremony began. Proud faculty and staff joined former
pupils, assisting them with their tassels and robes, and posing for selfies. Chants of
accomplishments began as the young scholars lined up and made their way toward
the auditorium where family and friends were packed in. Support rang out as
they took their seats. Principal
Michelle Brittain-Watts introduced each of the speakers and guests, including
the valedictorian Blessing Olagundoye and salutatorian Ron Sims, who offered
words of wisdom and inspiration to Northwest High School’s 53rd graduating
class. A spirited commencement
address was given by Dr. Michael Searcy, senior pastor of New Direction Worship
Center. “My goal is not for you to get to the top; my goal is for you to stay
on top… In order for you to truly get to the top you have to have ambition, and
never lower your standards.”

SHORTRIDGE INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE
HIGH SCHOOL

2017 Shortridge Graduation

The
cheers were deafening on June 9 as the oldest free public high school in the
state of Indiana (Shortridge High School) graduated its senior class of 2017.

The
dimly lit auditorium made for an intimate ceremony as keynote speaker Doug
Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, urged each student to not
only continue learning but most importantly, “Don’t stop dreaming. If you love
something, and you’re passionate about it, find every way to incorporate it
into your life.”

This
year’s graduating class marked more than 150 years of excellence that the now IB
school currently hails and continues to produce.

Principal
Shane O’Day sent his students off with an old anecdote that preached the
importance of not only appreciating beauty but bringing beauty to the world
around them.

As
he ended his speech, he urged his students to “continue making beautiful music”
and with a class that has so many talented students and leaders, it’s safe to
say the future is already looking bright.

SIMON YOUTH ACADEMY

2017 SYA Graduation

Students at
Simon Youth Academy (SYA) took their unique ride down the escalator inside
Circle Center Mall on June 4 for the school’s second graduation ceremony at the
Indianapolis Artsgarden. Graduates of
the school, which helps students in unique situations obtain their high school
diplomas, represented five IPS high schools, including Arsenal Technical High
School, Northwest Community High School, Arlington Community High School, George
Washington Community High School, and Shortridge International Baccalaureate
High School. SYA’s graduates
were awarded a total of $102,000 in scholarships, with Jae Vaugh Hubbard and
Ta’kedia Brown receiving the largest awards of $32,000 each. SYA can also boast that 100
percent of their 2017 seniors have applied to college or received acceptance into
post-secondary schools.  It was
definitely a special day for a group of students who faced various challenges,
but who persevered to complete a major milestone in their lives. Congratulations
to all of our 2017 IPS graduates! You are definitely Future Ready.