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Community Advocacy Organization

Great Things are in Your Future

By J. Isaac Noel Benjamin II

The Chronicle News Stock Photo

My younger brother was the valedictorian of his 1984 graduating class. He began his speech with a loud and deliberate, “WE HAVE A THIEF AMONG US!” A hush fell over the crowd. He went on to explain that his freshman class started over one thousand strong and was graduating only 386 students. He had not only the audiences undivided attention but finished his speech to a standing ovation. Ninety-five of that graduating class went on to college. According to data released by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), Michigan, high school students are graduating and dropping out at very similar rates each year. The dropout rate fell slightly to 8.91 percent for the 2015-16 school year, down .21 percent from the 2014-15 rates of 9.12 percent. The 2015-16 school year graduation rate decreased slightly to 79.65 percent, down 0.14 percent from 79.79 percent in 2014-15. Eight of the 10 school districts with the highest school students in the cohort class of 2016 (1,100 to 3,200 students) improved their graduation rates. In order of class size, their rates are: Detroit City School District 78.30 percent; Utica Community Schools 93.06 percent; Plymouth-Canton Community Schools 92.05 percent; Dearborn City School District 92.74 percent; Chippewa Valley Schools 90.41 percent; Ann Arbor Public Schools 88.86 percent; Livonia Public School District 92.14 percent; Rochester Community School District 96.29 percent; Warren Consolidated Schools 85.60 percent; and Walled Lake Consolidated Schools 90.16 percent. Four-year “on-time” graduation rates are a school accountability measure adopted by the state, and the methodology for calculating rates is aligned with the National Governors Association Graduation Counts Compact. CEPI also reports graduation rates for students who remain in high school five and six years. The 5-year graduation rate edged up .82 percent to 82.81 percent, and the 6-year rate improved by 1.42 percent, to 82.67 percent.

Due to a worldwide pandemic, COVID19, the 2020 graduating seniors couldn’t attend graduation ceremonies. There is still plenty to celebrate. Showering 2020 graduates with lots of love—plus, helpful graduation quotes and advice—can help take the sting out of this year’s events. “Everything’s always ending. But everything’s always beginning, too.” — Patrick Ness “There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” —Nelson Mandela “The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match, each one of you is a fuse.” — Ed Koch “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” —Dr. Seuss “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” — Judy Garland “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.” — Mahatma Gandhi” The noblest question in the world is: What good may I do in it?” — Benjamin Franklin “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” —Winston Churchill Don’t underestimate the power of your dreams.” — Corinna Kong “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” — Oprah Winfrey What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. — Ralph Waldo Emerson “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” — Albert Einstein “Education is something we have to keep pursuing day after day.” — Premier Brian Gallant “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” — C.S. Lewis “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln “No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.” — Donovan Livingston “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson “Every person you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.” —H Jackson Brown Jr. “There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.” —Jennifer Aniston Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. “— Vincent Van Gogh “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye.” – Helen Keller “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” — Anatole France “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” — Confucius “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.” – Mark Twain “Just remember, you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” – Francis Bacon “When you take risks, you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” — Ellen DeGeneres “Surround yourself with doers. Be around people who demonstrate their boldness.” — Wayne W. Dyer “Fortune does favor the bold, and I promise that you will never know what you’re capable of unless you try.” — Sheryl Sandberg “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” — Samuel Johnson “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” — William Shakespeare “Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do, and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done. “— Frederick Douglass “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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