DURHAM -- Graduates of Durham’s Performance Learning Center and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy were urged Tuesday to “cherish the moment” by guest speaker Rob Boyd, a noted financial leadership coach.
Boyd, a Northern High School graduate who went on to earn degrees at Howard and Georgetown universities, also asked the graduates and their guests to take out their cell phones and to take selfies to remember the moment. “This picture will be a moment in time to revisit in the future to remind yourself of where you’re going in life,” Boyd said during the graduation ceremony held at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on the N.C. Central University campus.
Thirty-seven students graduated from the Performance Learning Center (PLC) and another 12 from the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy (MJBA). As is the tradition for both programs, significant people in the students’ lives accompanied them across the stage to receive their diplomas while short student bios and future plans were read by program officials.
Many of the graduates have plans to attend Durham Technical Community College to gain work skills or course credits to transfer to a four-year college. Six of the graduates earned enough high school credits to graduate a year early.
Senteria Trueluck was the Class of 2016 valedictorian and Greta Marie West the salutatorian.
Boyd, who has spoken at Microsoft, Howard University and other prestigious companies and universities, said being able to return home to speak to Tuesday’s graduates was the most rewarding.
“This is by far the most meaningful opportunity I’ve had to speak,” Boyd said. “This is the first time that I’ve actually spoken in the city that I’m from.” Boyd said Durham is the city that made him. But he warned that it’s also a city that can deal a person significant setbacks.
He urged the graduates must think deeply about their futures. “Many of the adults in your life are unhappy with who they have become,” Boyd said. “They’re unhappy with what they do every day. It’s not because they’re bad people, it’s because they value the opinions of others.”
He offered the graduates a cheat-code to help them navigate life after graduation. “Don’t focus so much on what you want to do, focus on who you want to become,” Boyd said.
Vania Johnson, a tenth-grade student at the George V. Voinovich Reclamation - Bridgescape Academy in Cleveland, recently put her strong commitment to helping the less fortunate into action. Last week, Vania arranged a bake sale to benefit the City Mission of Cleveland. The City Mission provides shelter and other services to the homeless.
Although she has thought of several projects to help her cause, Vania spoke to Program Director Jennifer Morrison about her idea and Morrison arranged for the staff to contribute baked goods to the cause.
Vania baked chocolate cupcakes and recruited Brooke King, a 9th grader, to manage the bake sale table with her on the day of the bake sale. The bake sale drew buyers from our entire building including students, teachers and staff from organizations that share the building. Vania raised $73.00 during the bake sale. The next day, she took her donation to the City Mission and got to learn more about how her money will be used to service the Cleveland community.
Raquel Alexander is a 20 year old senior at Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy Humboldt Park, and is from the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. She has been in the program for two years, and is now focused on graduating in June and continuing her education.
In order to save money, Raquel plans to attend Truman College and study Criminal Justice. Her goal is to then transfer to Loyola University and major in law. Raquel will then apply to Law School at DePaul University and hopes to eventually practice law in the city of Chicago. Raquel plans to contribute directly to the change she wants to see in her community.
In addition to her studies, Raquel enjoys both music and the arts. Her specific interests are Pop Rock and drawing as she grew up learning about both from her father. She also believes music and art are relatable to her life, and serve a therapeutic purpose.
The Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Durham, North Carolina celebrated Winter Graduation on January 19, with 14 new graduates. While the students came from many different backgrounds, they all had the same story -- they had disengaged from high school and saw the importance of earing their high school diploma.
Among the graduates: Heather wants to go on to Wake Technical Community College, while Diamond plans to go to school to pursue a career in medicine. Demetrius started the semester 16 credits shy of graduation and earned EVERY credit he needed in one semester. Jennifer is a wife and mother of 3; her little girls cheered for their mom as she walked across the stage. All of students were grateful for MJBA and the staff who pushed them, cheered them, and coached them to the finish line.
Since the inception of the program, more than 1,100 non-graduates have earned their high school diplomas from Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. Eight-six percent of the graduates from the Class of 2015 are attending college, trade school, are employed, or are serving their country in the military.
After completing 8th grade, Titochie Figures dropped out of school. For more than a year, his educational future looked bleak, and it was more than likely that he would never earn his high school diploma.
However, in September of 2014, Titochie enrolled at the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Starting out with zero credits towards graduation, and initially struggling to become acclimated to the school’s culture and learning environment, Titochie finally hit his stride.
With the guidance and encouragement of the MJBA Englewood academic team, Titochie successfully advanced through his course work to the point that on January 12 – Titochie Figures became a high school graduate, and will be joining the Work Training Program at the Chicago Urban League.