347 Skyline High School graduates urged to continue to live what they’ve learned

Story and photos by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Scenes from the Skyline High School Commencement Ceremony held June 13, 2016:

By Jo Mathis
AAPS District News Editor

There’s something different about Skyline High School’s Class of 2016, Principal Cory McElmeel told the 347 graduates at their commencement Monday evening.

Whether or not it’s immediately obvious to everyone, he said, Skyline students embody the principles of integrity, diversity, equality and academic innovation.

“They embrace diversity, challenge the status quo, and engage in courageous conversations,” McElmeel told the crowd gathered at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center for the school’s fifth graduation.  “They go beyond surface level relationships and stereotypes to truly understand and value each other as human beings. You all understand this.  You get it.  You have lived it.”


Skyline’s commencement was the last of the season for Ann Arbor Public Schools.

The two-hour celebration included the presentation of class gifts (a statue of an eagle—the school’s mascot), recognition and scholarship honors, and a class message delivered by graduate Nadina Hassan.

Nadina said the real lessons she’s learned at Skyline are far richer than those listed on her transcript. She used quotes from musical theater—her passion—to talk about her experiences at Skyline.

To the lifelong friends she made at Skyline, she said: “Your presence, your actions and your thoughts have all been imprinted on me in some way, and I hope the reverse is true as well.”


The Class of 2016 includes many high achievers. For instance:

  • 18 students have maintained a 4.0 GPA all four years
  • 65 students have a 3.9 or higher
  • 95 students have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.20 to 3.49

Superintendent Jeanice Swift reminded the students that it’s a big and complicated world out there.

“In Michigan, across our country, and around our world, we are reminded daily, as we were just yesterday with the reports coming from Orlando, that we face so many challenges in our world,” she said. “And on many days it may seem as if we are moving backward instead of making progress in living our core values of respect for one another and progressing in our work together to overcome our numerous shared challenges.”

But she said that it’s as true today as it has been at any time before that the world needs them to fill the places that are uniquely theirs to fill.

“Today is your day,” she said. “Take the lessons you’ve learned and go. Go courageously. Go explore this world. And go find your place.”


McElmeel told the students that while Ann Arbor aspires to be a 28-square-mile haven of diversity and acceptance, it is still imperfect, and there is still work to be done here and in the world at large.

“The price of justice truly is eternal vigilance,” said McElmeel, who asked for a moment of silence to recognize the tragedy in Orlando.

McElmeel told the graduates that they must make it part of their mission to live up to the ideals they’ve learned at Skyline.

“We send you out to be a beacon of hope and progress,” he said.  “We send you out to serve as agents of change.  We send you out to make the world right.”

The 2016 Skyline cap toss:

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