Friday in Macon, and last Thursday in Clarkston and Cave Spring, the air was
electric, as it is at all graduations.
ceremonies unfolded at the Georgia Academy for the Blind, the Atlanta Area
School for the Deaf, and the Georgia School for the Deaf, you could feel the
anticipation buzzing through the air. The future is almost physically present,
something with real matter and weight, in a room full of
don’t need to see the clapping, or hear the undercurrent of noise, to feel it.
week, Georgia’s three state schools graduated a total of 43 students – each of
them a fighter.
room of graduates last week was a room full of overcoming.
the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, a small school off a quiet road in
Clarkston, and at the Georgia School for the Deaf’s green, pastoral campus in
Cave Spring, the ceremonies unfolded not just in words but in moving hands.
Guests who weren’t fluent in sign language listened to speaking interpreters,
but they learned quickly, when it came time to clap, to abandon the typical
smacking of palms for a gentle waving of fingers in the air.
the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, valedictorian Jesus Alberto Ontiveros
urged his classmates to move forward.
he told them. “Do what you dream of.”
speaker MeLisa Dennis signed encouragement to the graduates, nudging them
toward all the overcoming ahead.
people tell you that you can’t, because of this or that,” she told them, “you
remember that I told you, you can.”
the Georgia School for the Deaf, students donned yellow and green caps,
hand-decorated in paint and glitter: I did it. Thanks, mom and dad.
speaker Mike Glenn, a former NBA player and basketball analyst for Fox Sports
South, signed his address. His father was a teacher and coach at GSD and he was
standing, on Thursday, in the gym where he learned to play basketball. As he
left the stage, he bent his middle and ring fingers and extended the others out
– the sign for “love.”
after speaker reminded the students not to let their hard work end on the
things are expected of you,” State Board of Education member Larry Winter told
them, “because you are a great woman. You are a great man.”
the graduates made their way across it, the school’s DeSign choir filed onstage
and signed the lyrics to Katy Perry’s “Roar,” a moment Principal Leslie Jackson
noted later in the ceremony.
have the eye of the tiger – the GSD Tiger, right?” she said, referencing the
school’s mascot, and her nine graduates. “Today, you have heard them roar.”
display at the Georgia Academy for the Blind a day later was the essence of
school as community. It was there in the teachers and principals gently
adjusting graduates’ tassels, in the encouragements to the ceremony’s student speaker, in
the strains of songs sung by the school choir.
is a milestone day,” 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year Runner-Up David DuBose
said in his commencement address. “It is a day that you’re going to remember
for a very, very long time.”
each graduate made their way across the stage, the front rows – the other
graduates – erupted.
job, buddy!” one student cried as a fellow graduate made his way across the
wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Georgia School for the Deaf Graduates:
Armando Cacho Ramirez
Louis McTaggart, Valedictorian
Bernard Snipes, Jr.
Georgia Academy for the Blind Graduates:
DeShone Youngblood, Jr.
Atlanta Area School for the Deaf Graduates:
Deyanira Cruz Cabrera
Cesar Marcial Reyes
Alberto Ontiveros, Valedictorian
Alejandro Sanchez Pacheco
Humberto Soto Sanchez