Video, photos and story by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
The 32 graduates of Pathways to Success Academic Campus were praised for their grit, strength, and ability to overcome hurdles during their commencement ceremony Monday night at Washtenaw Community College’s Towsley Auditorium.
Board of Education President Harmony Mitchell told the graduates that the Pathways commencement is by far her favorite.
“Where other people see struggle, I see triumph,” she told the crowd. “When other people see you as the kids who couldn’t make it, I see the overcomers. I see the winners. I see those who know how to deal with struggles, those who know how to make a way out of no way, those who are living on the prayers of the grandmothers and the great-grandmothers and those who are making a way every day to make it through so much that a lot of us can’t really make it through.”
Dean Shaenu A. Micou noted that the school embraces the motto “Whatever we commit to do together, we will do well.”
He also noted that 45 Ann Arbor Adult Education graduates earned either a GED or high school diploma and many were already enrolled in continuing education programs.
“Proudly, 20 of our adult education graduates are here participating in the Pathways graduation ceremony this evening,” Micou said, as the crowd applauded.
Student speakers MaKayla Scott and Aarin Burt talked briefly about their success at the alternative high school, where they found the support they needed.
MaKayla began with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
She said that when she became a Pathways students as a sophomore, she hadn’t yet found her voice.
“I stayed silent because I wasn’t confident as a student,” she said. “I didn’t know how to advocate for a cause and I wasn’t certain of what my plans were after high school. Because of the support of everyone around me, I was able to find my voice.”
Getting through high school was a roller coaster for each Pathways graduate, she said, adding: “I’m here to tell you that we all have a purpose in life.”
LeMarcus Roper received the Dean’s Distinquished Honors Award, and the Transformational Achievement Award went to Carson Bins.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift told the graduates that she honors their individual stories.
“No one else has your story,” she said. “You are unique in all the world. We see you. We hear your important voices. We honor the journey that each of you has taken to arrive at this evening and this milestone achievement of high school graduation.”
Harmony Mitchell noted that the students’ struggles has “cut them into diamonds.”
“I need you to understand that everything you have been through has made you stronger,” she said. “We need strong people for this future. Our world is getting difficult day by day and we can’t make it with those who don’t know how to endure; can’t make it with those who don’t know how to make it through. And you are those people.”