Rainbow zebras show strong bond at Community High School graduation

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By Tara Cavanaugh

Community High School is a unique high school, and its graduation ceremony is unique too.

All 120 graduates of the Class of 2013 gave a short speech at the school’s 41st commencement ceremony at the University of Michigan Rackham Auditorium on June 4. Each speech highlighted what makes the school with a rainbow-colored zebra mascot special.

Students thanked their teachers, parents and friends as they received their diplomas. They were joined on stage by their forum teachers, who held the microphone and gave them hugs.

Many students talked about their love for their school. “There are a lot of decisions I’ve made these past four years that I would like to take back. But my decision to attend Community is one that I’ve always been completely sure of,” said graduate Tessa Stapleton.

Many addressed teachers directly, such as Michelle Wander, who dedicated her speech to Judith DeWoskin. “Maybe it’s because you called me by my sister’s name sometimes. Or maybe it’s because you’re simply a brilliant teacher. Either way you helped me find my voice, as a writer, a student and as a person.”

Graduate Kate Summers summed up her experience this way: “Community High School encouraged us to have intellectual discussions, be independent, and most importantly it taught us that we can only be ourselves and nothing but that will do anything good.

“I do not believe that the Community High Class of 2013 is any better than a previous group of students. I believe that we, and every other student who has graduated before us, are great because we went to a school that allowed us to find and share our voices with the world.”

“You have had one of the best educations in the country,” Community Dean Jennifer Hein said, highlighting the school’s many accolades this year, such as its distinction as a Michigan Rewards School, earning a U.S. News World Report Bronze Medal, and ranking as one of the nation’s best high schools according to a Newsweek list.

“You are writers, artists, actors, musicians, mathematicians, scientists, homebuilders, gamers, dancers, photographers, ukelele players, athletes and mock trial gladiators,” Hein said, smiling at the graduates.

“You have traveled from the Opening Day ceremony at St. Andrew’s Church on Division street to as far away as Tibet, exercising social justice, serving others because education is a civil right and helping others because you will do that now when no one is looking.

“This awareness of your community is part of who all of you are.”

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