Summer graduates told to have grit

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Trajure Bazemore had always gotten good grades throughout her first three years at Lakeland High School, so when she reached the end of her junior year and found out she was only a pair of summer school classes away from graduating, she went for it.

And with Wednesday’s graduation ceremony at King’s Fork High School, the 16-year-old Bazemore will bypass her senior year and begin preparing for college and a career in nursing.

“Going back to school next year, I only had two classes left, so I figured, go ahead and do it over the summer, graduate early,” Bazemore said.

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Bazemore was one of 39 students — 19 from King’s Fork, 12 from Lakeland and eight from Nansemond River — who graduated during the summer ceremony.

Summer school principal Derrick Bryant told graduates and parents that graduation is a big deal and should be celebrated.

“You may not remember much today, but you and your parents will remember how it felt as you walked across this stage,” Bryant said. “Your lifelong journey is just beginning, and the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.”

Bryant quoted from the movie “Avengers: Endgame” to remind graduates to be true to themselves.

“There is a scene where Thor went back to Asgard, and was having a conversation with his mother, and she told him, ‘Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be. The measure of a person is how well they succeed at who they are.’”

Superintendent-Designee Dr. LaToya Harrison told graduates that they have had grit to get to this point, and they will need to continue to possess it as they navigate their future.

“Young people, you are here today because of grit,” Harrison said. “And that same grit that got you to the finish line today, is that same grit that can take you anywhere in the future.”

Paraphrasing author Angela Duckworth, Harrison said graduates will have to do a few things to make themselves gritty throughout life.

Harrison told graduates that they need to have three Ps and an H — passion, practice, purpose and hope.

She said graduates should find out what they are passionate about, explore many things “and then see what grabs hold of your heart,” committing to be the best at whatever that is.

Harrison told graduates they need to be determined to improve and to grow, and that comes through practice.

“As my grandmother would say, you have to be willing to wake up early, put your hands to the ground and do the hard work to achieve your goal,” Harrison said.

Graduates should also have purpose and not live life just for themselves or a paycheck, but “live to pay it forward.”

To Harrison, hope is about having a growth mindset, that one’s effort is what makes them stronger.

“I challenge you today to live a gritty life,” Harrison said. “This is not simple or easy. In fact, it is a decision that will be tested and challenged by life itself. It will be challenged by what I call the ‘grit or quit’ moments in life.”

Though everyone faces those moments, Harrison said, they are not what defines them. It is how they respond that determines success in life. She recalled one of her own challenges during her sophomore year of college when she was placed on academic probation.

“I am here today because I chose grit when I felt like quitting,” Harrison said.

Marcus Green, who graduated from King’s Fork, had his own grit. He said without the support system of his family, he might not have reached this point.

“It’s real, real special,” Green said. “I feel real good about myself that I achieved something like this. It’s a life-changing moment, and I had a good support system.”