On June 21, scholars, staff, and families gathered to celebrate 400 Success Academy eighth graders as they graduated from middle schools across the network. Scholar speakers from each school shared their favorite memories and proudest achievements — and set ambitious goals for high school. We’re so proud of our scholars who gave it their all this year and who never stop trying! Our speakers were incredibly thoughtful in addressing their peers and thanking their teachers and families, so we wanted to share a few excerpts from the big day. We hope you are as inspired by these words of wisdom as we were!
Amaris Asiedu, SA Harlem North West Middle School
“In this graduating class, I see the future lawyers, doctors, mathematicians, game developers, technicians, artists and musicians, and much more. But it will take determination, motivation, encouragement and hard work, your blood, sweat and tears, to overcome each obstacle.
Every obstacle presents an opportunity to learn new and innovative ways to accomplish your goals. Society presents people with many challenges based on the color of their skin, where they are from, the language they speak, who they love, and much more. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t let these burdens and restraints get to you and make you give up because giving up means failing yourself and millions who might not come after you.”
Rachel Bochman, SA Midtown West Middle School
“Eighth grade is an awesome community because we don’t have cliques. There are no popular girls saying “you can’t sit with us” or jocks beating people up in the hall. A large part of this is due to our teachers and leadership, who do an incredible job making sure we have a safe space at school. But I’d also like to give some credit to the eighth grade. Ever since we were fifth graders, I have been honored to know a group of such talented, incredible, amiable people. And I’m even more honored to be able to hang out with you all every day, whether we’re building a giant pencil tower, singing Bohemian Rhapsody in public, crying over Endgame, camping out in Nowheresville, Pennsylvania, or just being together. Not as separate circles of friends, but as one eighth grade.
I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say we’re no longer a bunch of kids forced to be in the same building. I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say we’ve laughed together, cried together, and built each other up to the point where we’re more than a grade. We’re a family.”
Destiny Dembele, SA Harlem North Central Middle School
“As we transition from “spots on the rug” and walking in uniformed lines to creating our own steps, our time at Harlem North Central has prepared us to express our individuality and write our own story. It is our responsibility to be individuals and create a story that can be passed on and remembered by others. As we graduate today and move on to high school, I challenge you to embrace your uniqueness, your identity, the color of your skin, and use that to guide you in the decision that you make, for our world depends on a collective group of passionate individuals who can accept the realities of our past and change them in the future.”
Brianna Edwards, SA Harlem East Middle School
“We know that the transition to high school won’t be an easy one, but some of the difficulties we faced during middle school — specifically in eighth grade — have prepared us for our next challenge. If this school year has taught me anything it’s that having support and knowing what you want allows you to accomplish anything. As students of color, we have made history, and were some of the first eighth graders in New York State to take the U.S. History and Government Regents exam, which is traditionally an eleventh grade exam (shoutout Mr. Relyea and Ms. Levey). And we will continue making history as future athletes, politicians, and entertainers because if we continue to push ourselves — especially when no one is watching — in the next four years, there is no doubt in my mind that we all will achieve great things.”
Skye Flores, SA Bed-Stuy Middle School
“We are the first 8th grade class to graduate from SA Bed-Stuy Middle School, which makes this an extra special occasion as we are the first to lead and represent BSMS. As the inaugural class we have an obligation to lead to teach our fellow scholars to keep their eyes on the prize and not to give up even in the times that they are tired. I have no words for all we have achieved and leaders we became.
“You may see this as the end but it is actually the beginning of our success.
This 8th grade class has a lot of potential and I know we could go on to do great things. We will all have the opportunity to get scholarships to top colleges and make a lot of money as long as we don’t slack off. Thank You For everything.”
Jarlyn Carreras, SA Bronx 2 Middle School
“You all have the potential to excel in whatever area you choose to work in, as long as you apply yourself. But you can’t leave all this work to the teachers. You have to be responsible.
“Letting yourself go is a mistake, slacking at the end of the race is the worst decision you’ll make. The end of the race is the most important, because it’s the make or break, the game changer.
“So, my final words to you as a whole: Stay strong, stay steady, and stay ready, because life will keep you on your toes.”
Yanni Kalofolias, SA Harlem North West Middle School
“I would like to thank my mom and dad for pushing me forward and getting me through the year, and I hope all my peers feel the same about their families’ support, because we, as students, could not be who we are or achieve what we want to achieve without the support of our parents and families. I also want to thank all my teachers for their hard work and for always believing in us. Class of 2027, high school is going to hold challenges that, at times, might appear insurmountable, but we just have to continue trying and keep our goals in sight. I know that positive, motivated thinking can help all of us overcome any hurdles that arise. Good luck in the future, and thanks for this wonderful year!”
Isaac Pierre, SA Harlem West Middle School
“When I was younger I always wanted a superpower. I always wanted something to make me feel like a hero. But as I stand here now, I realize that my fellow graduates all share a common superpower: intelligence. It’s that intelligence that’s going to cure cancer; it’s that intelligence that is going to make the next hit album; it’s that common superpower that’s going to help me be the next Barack Obama. I am not scared of what’s to come. As I look around at my fellow graduates, I see great potential. I see them using their superpower to solve problems, overcome challenges, and leave the world a better place.”
Johnethan Rivera, SA Bed-Stuy Middle School
“We are just getting started on our journey to the top guys — we must “Persevere” !!
“I want to see all of us there sitting at the top !! I will miss all of you. I encourage you all to follow your dream. Never give up and whatever you do, put your Mind and as well as your Heart into it!