Six hundred seventy-nine seniors graduated at Jericho City of Praise church in Landover, Maryland on Monday, June 2.
According to Principal Phillip Gainous, this year's graduation was a success despite initial troubles. "I think for the first time, it went really well. We had some minor glitches, but it went really well," he said.
Assistant Principal Linda Wanner credited the achievement in part to the maturity and care displayed by the graduating class. "I asked them not to do student pranks, and they didn't do any. They seem to be a class with a social conscience, and I applaud them for that," she said.
Gainous also said that he was proud of the graduates' poise that was evident as they received their diplomas. "Many of them as they shook my hand were genuinely thankful. And that always warms my heart," he said.
With an estimated audience of 7,000 members in a facility for 10,000, Senior Class sponsor Norman Stant remarked everyone was generally well mannered. "I thought it was superb as one of the best behaved classes and adults that we've had," he said.
Despite controversy over the graduation site, Stant said that the choice of building with its large television screens was wise. "I think this facility was beautiful," he said.
Students agreed that the use of the building was not a dilemma; especially with the benefits of plentiful seating. "We were in a bind, and the people at Jericho City of Peace were nice enough to let us use the building. And as a result we were allowed to bring more people," said senior Amy Scheer.
Mistakes at graduation included the playing of religious music as guests entered the building, which Gainous attributed to a miscommunication between technicians and church employees. "But the church staff apologized profusely," he said.
Guests and speakers included Gainous, Stant, English teacher Maureen Diodati, the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize nominee columnist Donna Britt, Board of Education member Kermit Burnett and Acting Community Superintendent Walter Gibson. The senior class officers, Noelle Brutus, Eurykah Fon, Rosa Lozano and Cordelia Abrokwah, also presented farewell speeches.
At the official finale to high school, many seniors felt joy to receive the reward for years of hard work, including senior Josue Merino. "I feel very happy to finish and get my high school diploma with which I can go to college," he said.
Senior Dorothy Okrah said she felt both excitement and pride in finishing her experience at Blair. "I'm really proud of myself because after all that hard work, it was worth it," she said.
Elena Chung. After several failed attempts to start a school newspaper in elementary school, Elena Chung, a senior, has finally fulfilled a lifelong goal to write for a paper. When she's not hunting down sources or finishing loads of work, she enjoys taking photos, cooking, reading, watching … More »