In a commencement ceremony held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 102 YouthBuild Philadelphia students received high school diplomas on August 28. Over 1200 family members and friends of graduates joined YouthBuild staff and partners to celebrate the special occasion with the Class of 2009.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter delivered the inspirational keynote address. He recalled his memory of welcoming this group of students into YouthBuild just one year ago and encouraged the next class of YouthBuild students, also attending the ceremony, to learn from the example of these graduates.
The crowd was brought to its feet by 2007 graduate Domonique Williams, who delivered a rousing Alumni Address to close out the program:
There’s a war going on outside… and it’s going into our hearts and taking away our will. But with every war comes its heroes. Heroes who – in just one year – transformed themselves from the hopeless to the hopeful. Heroes who – in just one year – transformed themselves from the counted out to the counted on. Heroes who – in just one year – transformed themselves from high school dropouts into high school graduates. Heroes who – when many gave up on them – refused to give up on themselves.
More than 50 of the graduates plan to attend college this fall, many at Community College of Philadelphia, and others will continue their education at technical schools or start full-time careers in fields such as nursing care and commercial truck driving.