“What’s Possible for me, is possible for you” is the school mantra at Frederick Douglass Academy VIII. As to what is possible for the alumni, teachers, and family members in the audience and on the stage on their graduation day; it was possible for the class of 2018 to accomplish this after three years. Not just possible for some of the students, but this year FDA VIII achieved a 100% graduation rate. Every single eighth grade student had the opportunity to walk across the stage during their ceremony at the South Shore Educational Complex and have their name read aloud, and their diploma placed in their hand.
Some of the students are going onto specialized high schools; some are speaking up about social justice issues and creating their political voice, while others are going to be receiving a strong performing arts education after leaving FDA VIII.
“The staff just wouldn’t let them give up. Everybody had a cohort of kids that they would push to make sure that they worked hard and studied for their exams,” explained Principal Chantal Grandchamps, “There was no less than 100% for us. That was our goal from the beginning of the school year. So, we decided… instead of giving them that blank white paper, we will give them their diplomas to go home with.”
Collectively, everyone was so proud of the students and Principal Grandchamps found them to be so powerful. The students’ course load was packed with three high school level courses, and they had to fight to get into the high schools of their choice.
Many of the students also took the time to show kindness towards the principal when she had to take time off from work for personal matters. She described graduate Bryson Brooks, as her second assistant principal as he was always by her side offering suggestions for the betterment of the school and stopping by just to check in.
“I told Ms. Grandchamps to turn on hallway cameras,” said Bryson in an effort to ensure the hallway wouldn’t get shut down because of people leaving food on the floor. He graduated as the Class of 2018’s “Most Improved.” The student leader, aspiring actor, and director will be moving onto Brooklyn High School of the Arts where he hopes to explore characters, and scriptwriting.
“I want to do Cosmetology” said Kee Sincere. Thea Fisher, Kee Sincere’s grandmother said that watching her granddaughter graduate made her hopeful that Kee will go even further in accomplishing her goals and dreams.
Two alums from the very first graduating class of FDA VIII came out to speak to the students, inspire them, and offer living proof that they can turn the pictures they envision into a reality. It is clear to everyone who attended that these powerful, smart, students will do just that and anything else they set their minds, too.
Photos by Malick Mercier