By Tara Cavanaugh
Skyline High School’s inaugural graduating class celebrated the end of a journey last night – and the beginning of a new one.
The commencement ceremony at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center was full of reminders that the students have pioneered their own paths at the high school that opened in 2008.
“You have set a standard of excellence and left a legacy for all who come behind you,” Skyline Principal Sulura Jackson addressed the graduates. “We are extraordinarily proud of the degree of participation and academic excellence you have achieved in just four years.” (Story continues below slideshow)
Principal Jackson enumerated a long list of academic, arts and athletic achievements of Skyline’s Class of 2012, proving that the school with a unique learning model is just as competitive and talented as the other AAPS high schools.
Skyline uses trimesters, mastery learning, and four “schools” modeled after its four “big ideas” of Equality, Diversity, Academic Innovation and Integrity. The schools encourage students and teachers to create a more intimate learning environment.
Students can also take classes in one of four magnets – Business, Marketing and Technology; Communications, Media and Public Policy; Health and Medicine; or Design Technology and Environmental Planning – and essentially graduate with experience and education in their future career path.
The unique learning model was the dream of many individuals, including Dr. Todd Roberts, former AAPS superintendent. A chancellor at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, N.C., he returned to Ann Arbor for the graduation ceremony.
He reminded the audience of an old Greek proverb: “Plant trees under whose shade you never expect to sit.”
Dr. Roberts said that it was almost exactly eight years ago that the Ann Arbor community voted to make an investment in the students by building Skyline.
“This school will serve students and continue to add great value after they’re long gone,” he said. “I hope that you will do the same for others over the course of your life.”
The Class of 2012 offered two gifts: they sponsored next year’s mural painting and gave Principal Jackson a bound book signed by all 373 graduating seniors.
One student, George Gray, offered a unique gift of his own: Gray ran a 5K and raised money for a plaque that he donated to the school at last night’s ceremony.
The plaque read a quote from Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. You are the guide who will decide where to go.”
It was a fitting quote for the inaugural graduating class that established its own traditions in the new space.
“None of us have any idea what the future holds, what we’ll be doing in five or ten years,” said Harvard-bound Priyanka Menon, president of the Integrity school of the Class of 2012, in the student address.
“Then again, we are no strangers to journeys into the unknown. Our four years at Skyline have taught us that new is not frightening.
“We have spent freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years charting our own paths, breaking the rules, making mistakes and finding our own solutions.
“So the more I think about it, the more I realize that we are going to be fine. Actually, I venture that we’re going to be more than fine. We’re going to be great. The world has yet to see a class like us.”
What a wonderful and unique gift that George Gray gave to the school. Watching this student’s picture walking across the stage touches my heart and I know has taught compassion to this First Class of 2012- Skyline. Your work has just begun, Graduates, claim your future in this troubled world and emerge triumphant!