THEY DID IT! — The 2018 graduates of George Washington Community High School ended their ceremony with a hat toss to signal the end of four years of hard work.
Another IPS school year has come to a close, which means another successful IPS graduation season is in the books for the largest school district in Indiana!
Many seniors walked across the stage, with their diplomas securely in hand, on Thursday, June 7. However, a few participated in graduation ceremonies on June 3 and June 5, with Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School students scheduled to receive their diplomas Friday, June 8.
It’s the end of a four-year journey for these scholars and the beginning of the next phase of their lives, which includes heading off to colleges or universities (both near and far), leaving for basic training as the newest recruits in our armed services, or becoming part of the workforce.
IPS had a little more than 1,000 graduates in the Class of 2018.
Through tears of joy, hugs and lots of smiles from families, graduation offered the perfect platform for moving words of wisdom and encouragement from a host of guest speakers.
“Now you can go on with your lives and do things that surprise you, and fulfill you, and make you happy,” said IPS Board Commissioner Mary Ann Sullivan, a guest speaker at SYA’s graduation. “Whatever you choose to do next, do it with confidence, because we are all here today as witnesses to your proven ability to succeed.”
Here’s a look at each IPS graduation ceremony:
Arlington Community High School
The 56th and final commencement ceremony of Arlington Community High School was an eventful — and emotional — evening. There were many supporters from the community who came to show their support for the Class of 2018.
Keynote speakers throughout the night included Arlington Alumni Association President Timothy Bass, who offered encouragement for students and support for the rich history of Arlington High School.
Arlington alumna and IPS Board of School Commissioners Vice President Venita Moore also offered greetings from the Board.
Unlike the other graduating classes this year, Arlington presented two valedictorians and two salutatorians — one of the vals and one of the sals transferred to Arlington for their senior year after John Marshall Community High School was turned into a middle school for the 2017-18 school year.
To show support for those students, Angela Ludlum, former principal of John Marshall High School, offered words of wisdom and love for the graduates during the ceremony.
“The sky is not the limit. The universe is not the limit. You are the limit. And make sure that you exhaust every opportunity that you have to make sure that you go above your limit; you will be and do awesome things,” said Ludlum.
The 113 students who graduated on June 7 will forever be known as the last class of Arlington Community High School, which will reopen as Arlington Middle School for the 2018-19 school year.
Arsenal Technical High School
The crowd of families, friends and loved ones roared as they welcomed and celebrated the graduating class of 2018.
All 350 students marched in proudly and rightfully so, given that 90 percent of Arsenal Tech’s 2018 graduates are following the district’s vision of each student being Enrolled in college, Enlisted in the military or Employed at a livable wage upon graduation.
Keynote speaker Indiana State Senator Greg Taylor reminisced on years past, the changes he endured and the many changes the graduates would soon face. Leaving the students with key advice, Taylor said: “Life is 1 percent of what happens to you and 99 percent of how you react to it.”
He urged students, who are living in a world centered around social media, to be ever-present and to put their best foot forward in all scenarios.
Tears flowed for Tech’s Salutatorian Tania M. Pliego Torres as she addressed her fellow graduates. Torres, who is heading to Purdue University in the full to study brain and behavioral sciences, recounted her journey leading up to graduation day. She thanked her parents for the many lessons that helped her earn a family title of first-generation high school graduate and college attendee.
The Arsenal Technical High School Class of 2018 has 135 21st Century Scholars and nearly half of the graduates have earned college credits that will soon transfer to the schools of their choice this fall.
Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities
The 95th and final commencement ceremony for Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities was full of emotion as students, teachers and families celebrated the end of an era with the Class of 2018.
The band played “Pomp and Circumstance” as graduates filed into the Gene Poston Auditorium to a cheering crowd. The energy resembled that of a sporting event, as proud parents yelled their son or daughter’s name while applauding their arrival.
Valedictorian Jennifer Argumedo offered a tear-filled address. After encouraging her classmates, Argumedo took a moment to thank her parents for their support — speaking directly to them in Spanish. But she finished with the following:
“I always wondered about the correlation between rockets and ourselves and I now understand why we took the title Rockets,” said Argumedo. “We step on board, take off and land with our feet back on the ground. We’re an awe-inspiring spectacle and a revolutionary team. When someone asks how it feels to be a Rocket, we never tell them, we show them. Now, it’s time to get fired up. Don’t wait for the countdown, just go.”
Two commencement speakers provided life advice for the graduates.
“Value yourselves, respect the craft and go after it,” said Quincy Fouse, a 2015 Broad Ripple graduate and actor, who lives in Los Angeles. Since graduating from high school, he’s built an impressive resume of TV and movie roles.
But, it was fellow alum Kim Outlaw, pastor of Living Water Fellowship Church, who brought the crowd to its feet.
“Knowing who you are allows you to be authentic, truly yourself and never ever trade in yourself to be somebody else,” said Outlaw. “You were born to be an original and it was never intended for you to be a duplicate of anyone else.”
After the commencement, the graduates gathered with their families in the front courtyard for a balloon release — sending black and orange star-shaped balloons into the air. It was a final tribute to the end of a legacy.
Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School
There wasn’t an empty seat inside the auditorium as family, friends and other well-wishers gathered for the ninth commencement ceremony at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School.
While this was only the ninth graduation for the school as a medical magnet high school, Crispus Attucks has a long and storied history. Attucks opened in 1927 as a segregated high school and has been producing scholars since.
It’s the school’s history and the pride that comes with it that commencement speaker and longtime IPS educator Dr. Patricia Payne wanted graduates to remember.
“You’ll always be able to face yourself in the mirror if you can understand this: You are in fact continuing the legacy of the historical greats who walked these halls determined to finished their course, and they did,” said Payne to rousing applause from the audience — several who had attended Attucks themselves.
“The example that you are setting today sends the message that you must complete your education as Malcolm X tells us, ‘by any means necessary,’ and you can’t use racism or sexism or any of those other ugly isms as an excuse not to achieve, because failure is not an option.”
Payne is the director of the IPS Office of Racial Equity.
After the ceremony, the graduates proceeded out of the auditorium, through the cafeteria and outside for the obligatory hat toss — while family and friends waited inside the school’s gymnasium for them to return.
The 116 students from the Class of 2018 graduated with an impressive list of accomplishments, including 37 students who earned college credits while in high school, some with as many as 22 credits; 35 students who received academic honors diploma; 18 members of the National Honor Society; and 19 graduates who are 21st Century Scholars.
George Washington Community High School
Vibrant purple and white hues filled the auditorium as the George Washington Community High School band played. Excitement was in the air and you could see the pride on the faces of family and friends who filled the auditorium seats.
Salutatorian Jaina Wilson spoke with certainty about her future, which includes dreams of owning her own business and majoring in culinary arts and photography at Ivy Tech.
“Fear has two meanings; forget everything and run or face everything and rise,” said Jaina, as she encouraged her peers to continue to chase their dreams as they venture out into the world.
Valedictorian Esmeralda Araceli Velasco Garcia reminded the senior class that “nothing is impossible, even the word says ‘I’m possible!’” During her speech, she shared memories of their senior year and thanked several staff members for being so helpful during their high school years. Esmeralda plans to further her love of technology at Ivy Tech.
Keynote speaker Maggie Lewis, CEO and executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis, urged students to never lose their dreams. “Take your time and don’t be in hurry,” she advised.
The senior class, filled with nervous energy, sat enthusiastically as their names were called to accept their diplomas from Principal Emily Butler, IPS Board Commissioner Diane Arnold and IPS Deputy Superintendent for Academics Aleesia Johnson.
Each student had written a message that was read as they walked across the stage. Most thanked their family and friends for helping them along their journey.
On Tuesday, June 5, nearly 34 students received their high school diploma from the Graduation Academy in Arsenal Technical High School’s auditorium.
The excited students marched in to a crowd of cheering family and friends and were led by several district leaders, including IPS Board Commissioner Elizabeth Gore.
Graduation Academy is a multitiered program focusing on students who are in need of a nontraditional setting where they can learn through online and direct teacher instruction.
Throughout the ceremony, highlights included awards and scholarships received and words of inspiration from the students themselves. Graduation also illustrated how the students have taken the district’s 3Es to heart.
The Graduation Academy Class of 2018 has already secured Enrollment in a college or university, Enlistment in the armed services, or Employment at a livable wage upon graduation.
After the ceremony, a cake and punch reception was held for attendees.
Northwest Community High School
It was an emotional night for the students, alumni and staff at Northwest Community High School as they recognized their final graduating class during the school’s 54th commencement.
As students zipped up their gowns and straightened their caps inside the cafeteria, they were greeted and embraced by staff members who could not hold back tears.
“You can do anything you set your mind to. The last four years have prepared you for that,” said commencement speaker Tanya Walton Pratt, U.S. District Court judge.
IPS Commissioner greetings were presented by IPS Board Commissioner Doreen Hoops.
When the 114 members of the 2018 graduating class of Space Pioneers paraded out of the auditorium, the joy of the moment shined through as family and loved ones surrounded them in celebration.
This is the last year Northwest will operate as an IPS high school. In August, the school will reopen as Northwest Middle School.
Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School
Loud applause and cheering greeted each of the graduates of the Class of 2018 at Shortridge International Baccalaureate High School.
This year’s student speaker, Chinyelu Mwaafrika, captivated the crowd with an address that thanked his classmates for their patience and forgiveness. He emphasized the importance of respect at Shortridge and how it carried him through his time there.
Former first lady Judy O’Bannon inspired the graduates with words of inspiration: “When they tell you to flip your tassel, you’re gonna charge out and go!”
O’Bannon also let the recent grads know that they are special in the fact that they have a greater ability to work with the global community.
Principal Shane O’Day walked the crowd through a brief history of crayons and their ever-evolving color schemes.
Before the graduates walked out of the school for the last time, Principal O’Day had one final request for the students. He asked that as they make their way to the next phase of their life that students create their own “colors” in this world and that they go out, be creative and unafraid to be different.
Simon Youth Academy
On Sunday, June 3, the Indianapolis Artsgarden had all the markings of new beginnings.
Sunlight streamed through the modern glass dome on to a gleaming white marble floor. Green palm trees and bromeliads dotted the periphery of the circular space, while simple white chairs filled the center of the room. In those chairs were the forward-focused dreams and aspirations of Simon Youth Academy’s Class of 2018 — along with their family and friends.
Simon Youth Academy (SYA) is an IPS alternative school located inside Circle Centre Mall that helps district students fulfill their dreams of graduating from high school, thanks to a dedicated administrator and staff.
This year’s graduating class may have been small (just 22 students), but the wisdom, gratitude and generosity imparted by both speakers and students alike filled the atrium.
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here,” SYA Coordinator Teresa James read from Max Ehrmann’s poem Desiderata.
Sage advice also came courtesy of IPS Academic Improvement Officer Greg Newlin, who read excerpts from Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
IPS Board Commissioner Mary Ann Sullivan told graduates: “Whatever you choose to do next, do it with confidence, because we are all here today as witnesses to your proven ability to succeed.”
Two accomplished SYA seniors, Jennifer Figueroa and Alfredo Morales, were presented with $8,000 Simon Youth Foundation (SYF) scholarships. And SYF President, Dr. J. Michael Durnil, announced that SYA Coordinator Teresa James had been chosen as the foundation’s Principal of the Year.
As graduates accepted their diplomas, the crowd cheered as Montell Jordan’s voice blared, “This Is How We Do It” through the speakers. A postgraduation party, featuring cake and punch, was hosted courtesy of the academy’s Community Advisory Council and the Omni Severin Hotel.
Graduate Capri Johnson summed up the impact of SYA on her educational experience: “If I wouldn’t have come here I probably wouldn’t have graduated.”
Note: An update on Shortridge High School’s graduation ceremony will be added to this story after the school’s graduation, which begins at 7 p.m. Friday, June 8.