GARY — Dancing, chanting, selfies and embraces were the theme of the night for the 51 graduating seniors of Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy on Friday.
The graduates adjusted one another's outfits, went over speeches and danced off their nerves before being presented to family and friends.
Graduates shared advice for the underclassmen.
“When anyone tells you that you can't, that's your key word to push harder,” said National Honor Society graduate Chardinae Adams.
“No one can choose your destiny, but you stay strong and no matter what they say about you, push yourself to succeed,” Cary Martin said.
Principal Donna Henry welcomed and thanked the parents and guardians of the graduates for all of their hard work and involvement in the students' lives.
“The Class of 2016 are excellent examples of role models, mentors, and have set the bar high,” she said. “Yes, they have experienced tough times, but those moments are the very thing that has shaped them to the strong, independent individuals they are today. I know the Cass of 2016 will do great things for the world and their communities.”
School faculty member Jamie Wolverton introduced salutatorian Matayzia Hughes. Wolverton had trouble holding back tears during her introduction.
“From your current location, insert greatness as the destination of your GPS,” Hughes said. “I do not mean global positioning satellite, I mean GPS as in Great Problem Survivor. There will be great obstacles which we must overcome, but with sheer determination we will all make it.”
Valedictorian Princess Tucker expressed how making an effort to talk with the dean of students on several occasions helped change her life around.
“Previously, I attended Theodore Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy as a seventh- and eighth-grader,” Tucker said. “I personally was a mess. I tended to fight and act buck wild on a daily basis. However, when Edison Learning brought along Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy, I became a better individual.”
Tucker closed her speech with some final words of wisdom.
“You owe it to yourself to be the best that you can be because when you are not your best, others are less than they should or could be.”
Graduating seniors who were recognized were: Valedictorian, Princess Tucker; Salutatorian, Matayzia Hughes; Principal’s Award (Consistent Exemplification of the EdisonLearning 8 Core Values), Gary Davis; and the Superintendent’s Award (Consistent Exemplification of Leadership), Matayzia Hughes.
GARY — Thirteen members of Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy’s National Honor Society are planning to attend a leadership convention in Orlando, Fla. in mid-January. The students have been working diligently to make the trip a reality, however, they have encountered a financial challenge that may be too great to overcome.
"With the burden of having to raise enough money and manage school work on top of other countless responsibilities, the students have been faced with numerous challenges," said teacher and NHS advisor Jamie Wolverton.
Matayzia Hughes, ranked No. 2 academically in her class, aspires to a career as a forensic psychologist. She believes the trip will benefit her by introducing her to people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
“I feel the convention will give me practical leadership experience,” she said.
Students must meet astringent eligibility requirements to be accepted into the NHS — a 3.3 or above grade-point average, community service hours, and participation in service learning projects.
Princess Tucker, ranked at the top of her graduating class, has worked hard to maintain a 4.0 GPA while serving as co-president, with Hughes, of Roosevelt's NHS chapter. “I believe that having the privilege to attend the convention will be an eye-opening experience. It will enable me to make my success become a reality,” added Tucker, who plans to become an anesthesiologist.
"The students of Roosevelt’s NHS have set goals for themselves, all while staying on the right track," Wolverton said.
Junior Robbie Benson said: “I’ve personally had friends who decided to drop out of school. I have friends who are teen parents, as well as friends who made bad decisions. But I don’t let that take a toll on myself or my education.”
With Wolverton's encouragement, fundraisers, and donations from local businesses such as Charmeuse Lime, Wal-Mart, Robinson’s Ribs, and Powers & Son’s Construction, the NHS members have earned a large portion of the funds needed for the trip.
"There’s still more on their plate' so they won’t be easing up any time soon," Wolverton said.