ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Valedictorian Rachana Chau speaks at the graduation.
By MATT DEMIRS
LYNN — Constant commotion from the audience didn’t stop KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate graduates from celebrating proudly Thursday night at City Hall.
The Class of 2014 was asked to look back at freshman orientation by Drea Jacob, KALC school leader.
“That day you signed your commitment to be the best you can be,” she said. “And you are.”
Graduates will be moving on with an impressive achievement: 90 percent of the class will be moving onto higher education.
“The class of 2017 submitted 1,340 college applications and received 550 acceptances,” said Jacob, who also spoke of other accomplishments such as the record setting basketball team, the impressive cast of the musical In the Heights, and the poetry club Indigo Society, who won the state championship this year, and even performed at the graduation ceremonies.
“You have made the path and continue to make the path for students to follow since you were in kindergarten,” she said.
Valedictorian Rachana Chau spoke on how thankful she was for the memories shared between her classmates, friends and teachers, yet managed to still keep things real for the class moving forward.
“It doesn’t get better,” she said. “There will be setbacks, there will be tears but everything is temporary.”
Yesenia Bandoo, the class elected speaker, had similar encouragement in a speech reaping plenty of laughs.
“No matter what happens in life, it won’t last,” she said. “That means the happy times, like today, won’t last forever, but so won’t the bad. Aye?”
High school was difficult for Bandoo. During her junior year she wanted to drop out and give up on everything, she said. She was told she wouldn’t make it and began doubting her own abilities.
But it was that guidance and encouragement from the community at KIPP giving her the confidence to make strides. Now, she’s graduating and off to college.
“Change I can’t to I just did,” she said. “Push other people like someone pushed me.”
Graduates cheered loudly for their keynote speaker and his relationship to them and their school.
Damian Ramsey, a former teacher, delivered fond memories and sound advice, many from his own experience.
“Remember having to earn your chair and desk in the fifth grade or writing persuasive essays to get your teacher to eat insects?”
These were just some of the memories shared by Ramsey who also spoke of the potential they developed at such an early age.
“From the day you first came you were destined for greatness.”
In addition to making the Class of 2017 chime into a sing-a-long of the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Ramsey asked the graduates to set goals past college.
“Getting to college or even getting through college is not the end goal,” he said. “It is about accomplishing one goal and pursuing the next.”
Matt Demirs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org