Class of 2015: Here We Come, America
Not long ago, I wrote about the disbelief African American students at Elmont Memorial High School confront about their high achievement.
Ashley Simon, the valedictorian of the class, told me she is often greeted with surprise when people hear she earned 5’s on five Advanced Placement exams. Other students confirmed that Elmont’s successes are dismissed, and they are taunted with ugly racial stereotypes.
Shortly after the article appeared, one of the students I wrote about — Harold Ekeh — gained some notoriety for being admitted to all eight Ivy League colleges.
Harold decided to go to Yale and, as it turns out, 96 percent of his graduating class are going on to two- or four-year colleges.
That is not a fluke — it is the result of years of painstaking work on the part of teachers and school leaders to ensure that students feel cared about and learn a great deal. The work of Elmont was recognized in 2005 by Ed Trust when it was named a Dispelling the Myth school, and the work has continued unabated.
At the graduation ceremony, which I write about this week in Huffington Post, Simon — who is headed to MIT — reflected on both the success and challenges:
“I cannot wait to read all the success stories about each and every one of you. Sitting in front of me today are future lawyers, doctors, professors, engineers, and maybe even a track star or NFL MVP. We are already a success story as our school has dispelled the myth yet again…. If there are people who question your achievements, prove them wrong. Continue to dispel the myth and success will be waiting.”
Or, as Harold Ekeh said: “America, ready or not: here we come.”
Photo credit: Meagan Redman/NBC News