Summer school students rejoice at graduation

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, August 3, 2017

Lakeland High School hosted the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2017 Summer School graduates on Wednesday. The roster included 33 graduates from Suffolk Public Schools and one from Isle of Wight Public Schools.

“When you entered the hallways of your high school as a bright eyed ninth grader, graduation appeared to be light years away, but here you are this evening in your caps and gowns,” said Tina Paul, summer school principal and Lakeland High School assistant principal, at the ceremony.

Paul urged the graduates to be proud of themselves and everything they achieved to reach this moment.

Email newsletter signup

“Take the time to reflect on all you have encountered and conquered to get here this evening,” she said.

King’s Fork High School graduated 19 summer school students, along with 11 Lakeland High School and three Nansemond River High School students. Jordan Gilbert graduated from the Suffolk Summer School program as a Smithfield High School student.

Some graduates entered summer classes after having just failed a class during their senior years by slim margins. It was discouraging to miss that mark for some of them, but rewarding to retake the courses and succeed.

“It was embarrassing at first, but I got it,” said 17-year-old Gilbert, who plans to attend Thomas Nelson Community College in Newport News to study electrical engineering.

The summer school faculty helped these graduate regain their confidence and move forward with their lives.

“It was basically something that helped me as a whole be more confident in myself,” said 18-year-old Lakeland High School graduate Joi Parker.

Parker plans to enroll at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, then transfer to Old Dominion University to study business administration.

“It feels nice, like a new beginning to adulthood,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney addressed the graduating class and advised them to give back to their communities as they seek their passions and planned for their futures.

“Keep going and get it done,” Whitney said. “This world is wide open and ready for you to carve out your place.”

Friends and family cheered for the graduates as they received their diplomas dressed in their respective school colors. Graduates cheered for themselves as they turned their tassels, and a few of them even tossed their caps into the air.

They had earned this moment through their efforts.

“Remember the journey of life will be full of challenges and sacrifices in the pursuit of success and happiness,” Paul said. “Continue to develop good work ethic, make good decisions, and make the necessary sacrifices to achieve all that you are capable of achieving.”