For the amount of cheering in the Pittsburgh Brashear High School gym on Tuesday, you’d have thought graduation had come a few weeks early.
But it wasn’t just their upcoming graduation students were celebrating—it was about what they would do after they tossed up their graduation caps.
The Career and College Declaration Ceremony was a chance for graduating seniors to publically announce their future plans to peers, family and the rest of the Brashear community.
The ceremony was the first of its kind in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, and it was fitting that the Class of 2012—the 100th graduating class of Pittsburgh Public Schools—should be the first to celebrate.
Brashear principal Angel Washington said such recognition ceremonies are usually reserves for athletes, or only happen on senior nights or during award ceremonies. But the move forward into college, a career field or the military after high school is equally important for seniors to celebrate.
“This doesn’t happen in every high school, but we thought it was important to do this here, at Brashear,” she said. “We’re proud of you. We want you to be able to stand up and say ‘I did it.’”
Several of the soon-to-be graduates echoed her statement.
“This way everyone can see what we’ve accomplished,” said senior Mariah Brown, who will attend the Community College of Allegheny County this fall.
Lakisha Cutler, a senior who also will attend CCAC, said the whole day was exciting, but she doubted anything would be more exciting than graduation day.
“This lets everybody see that we made it,” Cutler said.
Students held signs for Duquesne University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro University, Waynesburg University, The Art Institute, Slippery Rock University, the University of Pittsburgh, the United States Army and Marine Corps, West Penn Nursing and several more.
Of the nearly 250 students in the senior class, guidance counselor Lauren Smith said 200 of them participated in the ceremony. Many of the seniors who were not able to participate in the event also have career or college plans, she said.
“Especially for these kids, a lot of them need that little extra push,” Smith said. “This is exciting for them to show their commitment to their peers.”
After the ceremony, senior Sereya Woods-Wilson said the event was much more than just another school assembly.
“It means a lot,” she said. “We get to say what college we’re going to. I think it definitely makes an impression (on younger students).”
Woods-Wilson plans to attend North Carolina A&T State University.
Her mother, Serena, said she is proud of her daughter’s accomplishment. She said her two younger children are in elementary school, but she looks forward to the day when they’ll be part of the same ceremony.