ByJune 17, 2020
The global pandemic may have spoiled prom and graduation plans for Detroit’s high school graduates. But it has given them this: the knowledge that if they can overcome the effects of the coronavirus, they can crush any obstacle.
That’s a message we heard over and over again from some of the city’s valedictorians, whose accomplishments over the last few years put them at the top of their classes.
“We will use this as motivation … to go and succeed in our postsecondary options,” said Von Elson, a graduate of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. “We won’t just go out as any senior class. We will go out as the best senior class to ever leave high school.”
In this unusual year, which saw school buildings shut down and learning shift online to halt the spread of the virus, Chalkbeat Detroit and Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit teamed up to give valedictorians in the Detroit school district and charter schools a virtual outlet to share their messages with the community.
This project features the videotaped graduation speeches of nearly a dozen valedictorians who opted to participate.