UPPER MARLBORO – There were bands and choirs, tassels and gowns, speeches and cheering as the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) class of 2016 graduated onto bigger things. By Tuesday night, ten high schools will have celebrated their senior classes graduating at The Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro. With each school having a different […]
UPPER MARLBORO – There were bands and choirs, tassels and gowns, speeches and cheering as the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) class of 2016 graduated onto bigger things.
By Tuesday night, ten high schools will have celebrated their senior classes graduating at The Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro. With each school having a different flare, parents packed the arena holding posters, blowing air horns and cheering as loudly as they could.
“Graduating from high school is a great achievement and I would like to congratulate the Class of 2016,” said Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer for PGCPS. “This is always a special time of the year where we recognize and celebrate the many accomplishments of our students. Again, congratulations and well wishes for a bright future.”
By June the senior class of 2016 will have graduated from 23 different high schools, two vocational schools and from the evening high schools, summer school, special centers and the Community-Based Classroom program.
Some highlights for this year’s senior class include five Gates Millennium Scholars, a Questbridge Scholar, eight Posse Scholars, a National Merit Scholar, a few students with 5.0 grade-point-averages, and many stories of personal victories and overcoming obstacles. This year even saw a family of triplets graduate together.
Board of Education Member Beverly Anderson attended the Friendly High School graduation, the first graduation of the season, and thanked the families of the graduates for entrusting PGCPS with educating their children.
“To our graduates,” she said. “Prince George’s County Public Schools has prepared you to be college and workforce ready. You have obtained a solid education here, which will empower you to reach your potential.”
At each graduation, a member of the board of education addressed the students and families and lauded them for their four years of hard work and shared well wishes for the graduates futures in college, the workforce or the armed forces.
Principals also shared words of reflection and encouragement. Torrie Walker, the principal at Fairmont Heights High School, shared her joy in watching the class of 2016 grow into adults.
“Three and a half years ago when I came to Fairmont, you were freshman still trying to figure out high school and look at you now: mature, focused, college and career ready, graduating high school to start a new chapter in your life,” Walker said.
While graduations are often seen as beginnings of the next chapter in students’ lives, this graduation season marked an ending for Forestville High School, which saw off its final graduating class on Wednesday.
With a little less than 200 students in their dress uniforms, and some in cap and gowns, Forestville celebrated its final class in style.
Principal Nathaniel Laney said although Forestville is closing, he was not sad at the graduation because it was a celebration.
“This is not a funeral. We are not bearing any loss today,” he said. “This is a celebration.”
Laney said he may be sad on the last day, but he would not be sad at a graduation where a class earned more than $3 million in scholarships and showed heart during adversity. He thanked the seniors for their dedication and the school for providing him a place where he could do what he loved.
“There is not a day that I wake up and say ‘I don’t want to go to work. I want to stay home.’ I have never in my seven years said ‘I don’t want to go to work today,’” Laney said.
William Blake, the principal at Stephen Decatur Middle School and a graduate of Forestville, also spoke at the graduation. He spoke to what it means to be “just a kid from Forestville.”
“As graduates of Forestville and as a teen of Forestville you are unique,” he told the graduates. “To be a kid from Forestville you are destined to be amazing.”
Blake also charged the alumni of Forestville and the current graduating class to keep the story of Forestville alive.
“It’s up to us,” he said.