Hundreds of students, parents, family and community members filled the stands of Hallford Stadium on May 24 for the Clarkston High School class of 2012 graduation.
Some brought balloons, others air horns, to congratulate the 161 seniors who will be going on to attend higher learning institutions, join the military and embark on new paths of their lives.
“We are a one of a kind school. How many high schools do you know with the mascot of the angora [goat]? I don’t know any. How many high schools do you know that have 48 countries represented and over 54 languages and dialects spoken?” Principal Michelle Jones said.
Marie Norman, a school district spokeswoman, said Clarkston High’s class of 2012 demographics consist of 67.5 percent Black, 3.6 percent Hispanic, 2.40 percent multiracial, 4.7 percent White and 21.9 percent Asian students.
“The class of 2012 has received $680,840 in grants and scholarships,” Jones said.
Jones congratulated the students and parents for being a class of individuals who “made things happen.”
“Remember, wherever life takes you on your journey, you are unique,” Jones told the students.
This year, the DeKalb County School District’s senior class of 2012 consist of 5,932 students from 27 schools, down from 6,130 students last year.
Southwest DeKalb High School was the district’s largest senior class with 380 students and held its ceremony at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church on May 25. Other schools graduated together, such as the DeKalb Alternative School and Elizabeth Andrews High School, which celebrated at New Beginning Full Gospel Church on May 23.
City Schools of Decatur had 154 students graduate from Decatur High School this year. Additionally, other DeKalb high schools held graduation ceremonies over Memorial Day weekend such as Academe of the Oaks, Marist, St. Pius and Paideia in Druid Hills.
Clarkston High valedictorian Dhruval Darji, who finished with a 3.8 grade-point average, comes from a family where no one pursued an education past high school.
Darji worked as an intern at Georgia Tech and now works in the school’s college of computing, where he teaches high school students computing concepts.
“No computer can run without the software that teaches it how to use its parts,” Darji said. “If our brains are an example of a computer, then what type of software does it represent? The answer to that is simple; it is our teachers, our mentors, our leaders and of course our parents.
“When you’re on the Internet you click a link and you find something interesting—you click something else—several minutes later you’re way off from where you started. Even that is a journey; every click is the end of one journey and the beginning of another.”
Darji reminded each student to go forward but not forget the support system of friends, family and teachers that they could always come back to in times of need.
Salutatorian Fatima Mohammed said attending Clarkston helped her learn about the real world.
“Going to a school that is not only diverse in nationality, but in culture, thought and experiences, has taught us so much,” Mohammed said. “Attending Clarkston has pushed me to become more accepting and see things from other people’s point of view.”
Mohammed told her fellow students that she only had one piece of advice for them as they continued on a new path in their lives—to never stop learning.
“That may seem like a simple concept but it isn’t. Learning the truth about your friends and family, learning the truth about the difficulties you could face and learning and accepting your mistakes is difficult,” Mohammed said. “This is why some people create a shield around them, because learning can hurt you but the day you stop learning is truly the day you stop living.”