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Max Hayes ninth-graders take graduation pledge

It had the feeling of commencement, but a ceremony conducted Wednesday morning in the Max S. Hayes High School gym was just a first step toward graduation.

Max Hayes’ 200 ninth-graders committed to graduating from the career-technical school, pursuing their chosen career “pathways” in the work force, going to college or joining the military. They entered to “Pomp and Circumstance" and cheers, received a certificate, picked up new school T-shirts and signed a class banner.

The ceremony will be repeated at CMSD’s four other career-technical schools, which along with Max Hayes have come together this year under the brand of The Academies of Cleveland. A planning team is reviewing the schools’ programs to make them more rigorous and relevant.

For many CMSD students, ninth grade is a critical year, and how it goes can determine whether they persevere and receive diplomas. Thursday’s rite was a reminder to “be on track now and not wait,” said Ann McGhee, who is managing the Academies of Cleveland transition.

The freshmen heard from Michael Jones, a 2014 Max Hayes graduate who now works as head assistant to the construction manager and superintendent at Icon Construction. The company’s projects include CMSD’s recently completed John Marshall High School campus and upcoming work on a new Campus International.

“Don’t take any of this for granted, don’t play around,” Jones said. “Everybody here can be something.”

Ninth-grade teacher Megan Gasparro encouraged the students to “ask us for help, stay focused, surround yourself with positive people and continue to make good choices.”

The ninth-graders will spend the year concentrating on academics but later will choose one of the school’s pathways: information technologies, manufacturing and engineering, construction technologies and automotive technologies. They also will attend a career fair and visit a college this school year.

Bernard Chandler, who oversees a network of CMSD schools that includes Max Hayes, said he looked forward to shaking the students’ hands when they cross the stage four years from now at commencement. He left no room for doubt that they should keep that engagement.

“That is the expectation,” he said. “Not our wish. Not our hope. That is the expectation.”