Perseverance. Determination. Focus. Commitment.

On Aug. 10, these attributes were epitomized and celebrated by a group of students gathered at DeKalb County School District’s (DCSD) central office.

DCSD hosted its 2018 Summer Graduation Ceremony, welcoming students from throughout DeKalb County. Students, teachers, families and staff gathered at the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex auditorium to celebrate commencement.

male graduate smiles as he leaves graudationStudents were advised to remember their support system through a symbolic act at the beginning of the ceremony. The entire class of 2018 stood, turned toward their families, and announced a resounding “thank you,” to attending family members.

“Don’t forget, as you cross other milestones along the way, that you can never be too proud to turn around and say, ‘thank you,’” said Superintendent/CEO Dr. R. Stephen Green.

Green also advised students to remember this point in their lives as a time they chose to overcome obstacles not faced by the traditional high school student; set aside setbacks that stood in their paths of success; and meet any challenge presented to them.

“You represent a certain degree of perseverance and determination,” Green said. “There were challenges to be met—you met those challenges. There were obstacles to be overcome—life happens sometimes—but you overcame those obstacles. There were maybe some setbacks along the way—you set aside those setbacks. And now you stand here today, ready to receive a high school diploma. You said to us, and everyone else in this room, ‘It’s not a matter of if I will receive this degree, it’s a matter of when.’”

Students who graduated in the Summer of 2018 will be afforded the same opportunities as their fellow students who graduated in May 2018. Though the size of the graduating class may differ, the size of the next step in their lives remains the same.

“I know life happens. We always have a plan and, sometimes, things don’t go as planned. But it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” said Manomay Malathip, executive director of DCSD’s Student Advancement division, when addressing students. “You’re here today. Congratulations to you all!”

Malathip also offered students advice on the next phase of their lives, including information on higher education, entering the workforce, and joining a branch of the military.

summer graduates pose with board memberDeKalb County Board of Education member Vickie Turner said the day marked not the end of each student’s high school career, but the beginning of their life-changing successes.

“This is a momentous and magnanimous opportunity, an opportunity to take further steps for your future,” Turner said. “Life is in front of you. There are obstacles you have already mastered, but there will be many more … You’re getting ready for the next phase of life. Whether you’re attending college, going into the military or right into the work force, it’s all good, as you all say. Remember the Nike logo that says, ‘Just do it’? You all can say, ‘I did it.’”

After students obtained their diplomas, Chief Academic Officer Stacy Stepney closed the ceremony by saluting the graduating class and leading students through the final act of graduation: moving their mortarboard’s tassel from the right to the left.

“You remember Dr. Seuss? I want to leave you with some of his profound words: ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know. You are a guy or a girl who will decide where to go,’” said Stepney. “Here is your charge: ‘The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Guess what? Each of you is the fuse. Please go out and make your mark in this world.’”