As a journalist who has covered plenty of graduation ceremonies, I am always on the look out for students with powerful messages to share or academic success stories. It is not always the class valedictorian or salutatorian. Nonetheless, congratulations to all of this year's high achieving academic students.
Success is often determined through individual drive and perseverance. Malcolm High School Class of 2023 Commencement Speaker Isis Howell understands this. She recognized her fellow graduates for overcoming any and all obstacles that could have prevented them from receiving their high school diplomas during last night's graduation ceremony. She warmly thanked Malcolm teachers and faculty for pushing her graduating class toward future success.
Wearing the brightly lit, creatively decorated crown that was her graduation cap, Howell took the Sault Area High School theatre stage to deliver one of the most honest and powerful graduation speeches I have ever heard. It is a true testimony to the staff and student body of Malcolm High School:
Malcolm High School Class of 2023 Commencement Speaker Isis Howell:
"First, I just want to give a big welcome and thank you to everyone who showed up today for the graduating class of 2023. There are a lot of things I would like to say tonight, but I would like to start by congratulating everyone up on this stage. It has been a long four years and a lot of us have overcome plenty of struggles and hardships within those four years.
Personally, I have moved back and forth a lot and did not really have structure in my life. I was extremely depressed and never thought I would make it to where I am today. I know there are so many other people of my generation and in this class who have struggled in and outside of school walls. Some of us never thought we would be graduating, but here we are. I am so proud of each and every one of us.
Going off of that topic, I would like to recognize that Malcolm and other alternative schools get labeled with and have bad reps. Along with the kids getting bad reps, we get labeled as "bad kids." We just don't listen; we get bad grades; we all fight... and so many other things. Not a lot of people take a step back and ask, "Why?" They do not sit down to get to know the staff who work in these schools or the kids who attend to understand that we are good kids, who have to fight even harder to make it here because of that bad reputation.
But the staff, here, at Malcolm did just that. They sat down and got to know each and every one of us. They found our struggles and tried their absolute hardest to push us through them. When we thought we wouldn't make it, the staff was always there to lift us up and show us that even when the odds look impossible, we can do it. Things other schools might have said were impossible, we did. The staff, here, at Malcolm took their time, day and night, to work with us and get us where we need to be. Together, we fought to get to where we are today. So, congratulations!
I am not sure about anybody else, but I would not be here today, on this stage, or even still in school, if it weren't for Malcolm. I was at my absolute lowest point and struggling so much that school was not even a thought in my head... until I came here. The staff fought with me every single day. Thanks to them, my life has gotten better in more ways than just school. I want to say thank you to the staff who became our family. You save more people than you know. You guys put up with so many things and deserve all of the recognition in the world. You are more than teachers, staff, and mentors. You guys are always there for us in our darkest days.
When we all wanted to give up, you guys were there, along with the family and friends of our class. Thank you for never giving up on us, driving us to school everyday, and so, so much more. Thank you to the people who doubted us, and pushed us even harder. Thank you to ourselves for, at the end of the day, getting our selves here through every struggle in our lives and making it to this stage. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of us and I hope you are all proud, too. I love you all and wish you all amazing futures. We all deserve it. Live your lives to the fullest and continue to make amazing memories every day. Congratulations to the class of 2023!"