ST. PETERSBURG – MYcroSchool Pinellas Charter High School held a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2016 last Thursday, June 9 at Pinellas Technical College (PTC). Thirty-two young adults move their tassels from right to left, symbolizing their transition from candidate to graduate.
Principal Michael Warren reflected on the last school year and told the graduates they should commemorate the road they’ve travelled to get to the destination of becoming a high school graduate. This journey started with a small step, but has taken them to remarkable heights, he noted.
“We’ve encountered some trials and tribulations along the way, soldiered on and came out stronger,” he said, concluding that it has been his privilege to be their principal.
Located at 840 Third Ave. S, MYcroSchool has been working for some four years to help youths aged 16-21 gain a second chance at a high school diploma. As a public charter high school, it works under the same curriculum guidelines as traditional public schools, but with a few intentional modifications.
MYcroSchool provides a school setting that caters to the unique needs of dropouts, or those at risk of dropping out, which not only benefits them academically but socially as well.
“People called you losers or problem starters,” said Boe Norwood, director of the St. Pete campus of PTC, “and that’s why you’re not in regular school. But guess what? It doesn’t matter now because you have a diploma just like they do.”
In his commencement address, Norwood admitted that he was in his senior year before he realized that you needed credits and a decent grade point average to graduate.
“All I cared about was running a ball and running behind girls, but by the grace of God and with people helping me, I came through,” he said.
He encouraged the graduates to make plans, set goals and work hard to accomplish them.
“Hard work— it really works! This position was not given to me; I had to go through a lot. A lot of disappointment, a lot of rejection, but I held my head up high because I knew the right job would come,” he said. “Always have goals, strive hard and make progress.”
Advising that the road will not always be smooth, Norwood encouraged them to remember God in adverse situations.
“Wherever you go from here, adversity you will face. You will have haters; you will doubter; you will have people wanting you to fail. Number one, keep God first. Keep him first in everything you do,” he exclaimed.
Aiming to make the graduates’ roads a little less rocky, Norwood offered each one of them an opportunity to attend PTC at half the cost. This means if they qualify for financial aid, the money that would have been spent on tuition and books will now go into their pockets.
“I’m not trying to bribe you, but I do want you here,” he laughed.
The surprise of the evening was when valedictorian Dalon Facey was offered a full scholarship to PTC’s nursing program.
Facey experienced family problems while attending Lakewood High School and almost dropped out. Her sister, who is also a MYcroSchool graduate, encouraged her to transfer. Last Thursday she stood on the stage, graduating a year early, with a bright future in the medical field.
“I just want to say congratulations to the Class of 2016,” said Assistant Principal Stevan Humphries. “You all have really put it to us, but I’m so glad to be a part of your process.”
The Class of 2016 salutatorian was Shirin McCoy, and Kasey Daniels, who performed a stirring spoken word piece, is being considered for the St. Petersburg College Gibbs Jr. High Alumni Scholarship.”