Mount Vernon STEAM Academy Graduates its First Class - June 21, 2021
As the seniors of Mount Vernon STEAM Academy graduated on Monday, June 21, they also reached a milestone for the District. The 100 members of the Class of 2021 were the first to become alumni of their school, and they did so amid praise, reflection and a song from Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton.
“Today we are standing in history as the first entering class, the first graduating class and the first to be educated through a pandemic,” class President Nyasia Bassaragh told her fellow graduates, all dressed in blue robes. “We made it, and we made room for those up next to do the same.”
The school focusing on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) opened in September 2018 as part the Mount Vernon City School District’s 2016 bond intended to facilitate the district’s 20/20 Vision. The Class of 2021 entered the STEAM Academy in 10th grade.
“Five years ago, this high school was a dream,” Board of Education President Darcy Miller said in her address. “Now, because of hard work on the part of many people, because of perseverance, it has become a reality. I’m so proud of all of you.”
Dr. Hamilton praised the class for, among other things, speaking up for what they wanted – including the in-person graduation ceremony, which was held outdoors on the school’s field.
“You made sure that I heard you and I want to commend you for using your voice,” he said. “There is no greater power than the power of your voice.”
Seniors had also emailed him asking him to sing. And he did. Taking a cue from a video they had sent of a North Carolina school principal singing to his students, Dr. Hamilton ended his address with his a cappella rendition of the Whitney Houston hit “I Will Always Love You.”
“I am so proud of you,” Principal Sharon Bradley said. “I know that you are the best and that we’re going to hear of even more coming from you in the future.”
Valedictorian Efua “Maame” Forson, in her address, recalled beginning her high school career at Nellie Thornton High School, then coming to the STEAM Academy, where “my support system grew even larger.”
“Think of the memories, experiences, conversations you had with the person next to you because even if you may never speak to them again, they are now part of you,” she said. “We’ll look back on our high school days and be glad that we made it through the times of masks, social distances, and protests.”
She encouraged her fellow graduates to always find someone to trust to help through the hard times.
“No matter how strong you are by yourself, every Captain America needs a Falcon, every Iron Man needs a War Machine, every Batman needs a Robin,” she said.
Salutatorian Martinez Jean Claude marveled at how the students – who are now seniors – had initially come to the STEAM Academy from different schools when it first opened and have now emerged as one class:
“Here, we had great accomplishments, from published student authors to students performing on the Broadway stage to even having a student-athlete who received a full ride to Xavier University,” he said. Then, referring to Forson, he said; “This school has even fostered the first black woman from Mount Vernon to attend Harvard on a full ride!”
Jean Claude, who will attend Emory University in the fall, thanked his parents, friends and faculty for their support.
He closed his remarks with a bit of advice: “Despite the troubles that are going to come your way, remember you only get one life, so never have any regrets, live your life the way you want to, fight for your dreams, go on adventures, have fun, live each day as if it was your last. But remember one thing – we did it! Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2021!”
CLICK THIS LINK – for the entire Mount Vernon STEAM Graduation photo gallery the is enabled for picture download.