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Summer commencement exercises show strength of spirit (Photo gallery)






Another 81 graduates joined CMSD's Class of 2018 on Wednesday night, perhaps a little later than their peers but with a keen sense of determination sharpened through perseverance.

Prompted by CMSD Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon, parents and other family attending the summer commencement ceremonies roared approval. The cheers crested high in the auditorium at East Tech High School and washed warmly across loved ones seated on stage.

The new alumni hailed from 16 high schools across the District. CMSD has now presented diplomas to 2,043 graduates since May 1. 

John Adams grad Carlen Franklin credited school paraprofessional Recellanese Williams and teacher Sandy Patterson with helping him press on through difficult times. He made up classes through an online program called credit recovery and submitted a capstone project on gun violence, inspired by the deaths of friends.

"I'm glad graduation is behind me," said Franklin, who hopes to obtain a commercial drivers license and travel by truck to other states. 

Natalie Miller, from Design Lab Early College High School, agreed with Principal Eric Juli's assessment that perfectionist tendencies caused her to hold on to projects, sometimes until it was too late. She plans to work through the fall before enrolling in Cuyahoga Community College and beginning a journey to becoming a dentist.

"Dentists make good money," she said. "And I wanted to stand out by picking something no one else was picking."

Forty-one of the graduates earned diplomas at the School of One, a blend of personal instruction and online studies offered at seven sites across the District. The program has evolved from one that students used to play catch-up to a solution for those whose varied circumstances, including parental responsibilities or jobs, are accommodated by the flexibility or alternative structure. Some earn college credit while working toward diplomas.

Gordon, his voice resounding with an almost evangelistic fervor, commended the graduates for brushing aside doubts -- both their own and those of others who dismissed their prospects. He urged them to continue to ignore the naysayers in the future.

"They are wrong," he said. "And they have always been wrong."

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