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P-TECH Brooklyn -- Class Act 2019

The 2019 P-TECH graduates are a class act, indeed, and they celebrated their academic achievements with moving speeches, performances and tributes
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Talent, beauty, intelligence, culture, humanity, creativity and scholarly pursuits — all of this emerged on Tuesday, June 25 to celebrate the 2019 Graduating Class of P-TECH in Brooklyn.

The event marked P-TECH's fifth graduation ceremony since its inception in 2011. Founding Principal Rashid Ferrod Davis along with faculty, corporate partner, IBM, City University of New York — City Tech and the New York City Department of Education delivered an inspiring program to the several hundred in attendance including graduates and their families.

Pomp and circumstance began the delivery of an excellent program that featured the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, musical selections, presentation of awards, addresses by the salutatorian and valedictorian and a keynote message to the Class of 2019 by Principal Davis. There were moving and heartwarming moments in every performance and message.

What was central to the theme of the ceremony was the great pride and sense of achievement felt and shown by graduates, faculty and families. Salutatorian Dynijah Drakes credited her student and academic success to her loving and supportive family, some of whom were in the audience and who cheered Dynijah on during her moments of recognition on stage. Esterie Bruno, the 2019 valedictorian, defined her graduating classmates as change agents and sought their advocacy to champion the P-TECH STEM 9-14 model of success.

"Communities like ours have been described as underserved, underprivileged, less fortunate, deprived, poor and underrepresented," she said. "But I learned that with the value and importance of the education that P-TECH offered us, we should consider ourselves well able, capable, proficient, rich -- at least in thought -- and have a voice to speak on any real issue that affects us as the next generation of savvy professionals in STEM."

Both students lead the slate of graduates who graduated with a P-TECH high school diploma while simultaneously earning an associate's degree with distinction in Applied Science from City Tech. Their counterparts included Chelsea Abel, Emily Gonzalez and Tyginae Wright.

Founding Principal Rashid Ferrod Davis flanked by Salutatorian Dynijah Drakes (l) and Valedictorian Esterie Bruno (r)

Principal Davis has worked hard and is to be credited for the sense of humanity enshrined in the culture at P-TECH Brooklyn. During the celebration, he singled out students who had experienced extraordinary challenges but were yet able to override their circumstances to emerge victors. Among those recognized were athletes who did the school proud at recent national meets: Tyginae Wright, Keisy Villanueva, Shawnakay Peart, Tariah Bryant and Malik Melhado.

"I wanted to do something a little different -- to share something about each of you to the audience so they could get to know who you are as a P-TECH graduating student," Principal Davis said in a special feature that highlighted messages about graduating students. He read the personalized notes from students whose comments included homage to their teachers, counselors, advisors and liaisons for being a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement during their student life.

The audience participated in an exercise that represented channeling the flow of energy, of culture and heritage, and a feeling of inclusion. Holding hands throughout the auditorium, audience members promoted a sense of connectedness and oneness. Following the exercise, Principal Davis shared messages of encouragement through personal anecdotes meant to spur students on during the next phase of their lives. Graduates were conferred following the graduation pledge, and the evening's program ended in jubilance, shouts of accomplishment and praise, grand applause and the recessional march.

By several accounts, P-TECH Brooklyn accomplished what it had originally set out to do, and perhaps more, by delivering opportunities for a successful career through its STEM 9-14 model. The graduating class of 2019 is a product of valuable education to a demographic that would otherwise be sidelined for career success in the workforce. Much of this ought to be credited to the leadership of P-TECH Brooklyn and the outstanding partnership and collaboration with the DOE, CUNY, City Tech and IBM.

Noteworthy is the very recent first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award by Fordham Graduate School of Education to Founding Principal Davis.

"Davis' leadership skills, attributes and innovative educational practices have transformed today's high school educational landscape through a unique high school program," reported the Fordham GSE News.

Many graduates from P-TECH Brooklyn will continue to pursue academic excellence in their quest for the American dream at colleges and universities around the country. New York City College of Technology, Hunter College, Howard University, Florida State University, Oswego University and Macaulay Honors College will be the next stomping ground for many proud 2019 P-TECH graduates.

A class act indeed!