Heritage High School Principal Shameka Gerald got a bit choked up during commencement Saturday afternoon.
Gerald was addressing the 279-member Class of 2017, Heritage's 20th graduating class. In honor of the occasion, Gerald said, her standard advice of "Always be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing" would not suffice.
"You are a class of students who will have careers in fields that have not been created yet. Therefore, I now change my charge to you," Gerald said, pausing to collect herself as the crowd cheered her on.
"Class of 2017, create the opportunities you want, because one crazy idea could change our entire world," she said. "Challenge the norms, because those were set long before you got on the scene. And finally, take time to go outside and breathe. Our world changes and moves so quickly. Sometimes you need to stop, walk into the sunlight, let it hit your beautiful face and enjoy the moment."
In total, the Class of 2017 earned more than $9.9 million in scholarships and academic awards, $1.5 million more than the class before, Gerald noted. Thirty-six percent of graduates completed high school with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and 458 career and technical education credentials were earned across the class.
Fifty-four percent of graduates are headed to college, 15 percent are entering the military and 31 percent are joining a trade or the workforce, Gerald said.
Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951.
Heritage High School
Total school enrollment: 279
Class of 2017: 1,229
Student speakers: Senior class president Lakiva S. Jones; Salutatorian Raché A. Manning; Valedictorian Sabrina K. Capps
For more stories, photos and videos from high school graduation ceremonies across the area, visit dailypress.com and dailypress.com/visuals.