Graduation is a special day. Walking from my office this afternoon, I received words of congratulations from several people I did not know. The sense of accomplishment, of completion, was something they felt should be recognized, so I now forward these words to the Class of 2012.
Today, we celebrate that 100% of our students have been accepted to college. This in, in today's context, an impressive feat. However, acceptance is the easy part. This is just the beginning. Our goal is for 100% of our students to be accepted to, but more importantly, graduate from, college.
We expect our scholars to be leaders, committed to making the world a better place for all. We need them to right the wrongs that we've created, to reduce inequality, to level the playing field, to eliminate the achievement gap, to lessen the unemployment gap and to erase the belief gap. The belief gap might be the most important. Do we all believe, and expect, each of our students to be successful in high school, college and beyond? At the Woodlawn Campus, that's what we've established. The belief that each of our Warriors has the potential to be supremely intelligent.
So, this 100% is just the start. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, I thought that the road to membership was the challenging part. When I finally became a part of the organization, an older brother told me that getting there was the easy part. The hard part was what lied ahead.
So my charge to our graduates is to be 100%. To put forth 100% effort at all times. Let me ask, are you 100% all in? When times get tough, will you stay at 100%? When you have to complete that 15-20 page paper, will you continue to be at 100%? When times get tough financially, will you still have 100% belief in your destiny? When some might doubt whether or not you have what it takes to finish, will you be 100% focused?
Members of the class have demonstrated the 100% spirit. Diamonde Collier has shown us 100% in her willingness to be a leader. Ebony King has demonstrated 100% achievement in her ability to be accepted to over 20 colleges and universities. Vernon Fleming has embodied 100% "amazing" by being selected to receive the prestigious Posse Scholarship to Oberlin College. Darius Billingsley has demonstrated 100% persistence in his determination to overcome obstacles. Through actions, your peers have demonstrated what is probable. It's up to you now to move forward and show the rest of the world.