On June 8th more than 1,000 people gathered in Moody Bible Church to celebrate Roberto Clemente Community Academy’s graduating class of 2015. The atmosphere was electric, showcasing the young talent in Humboldt Park from Jasha Jackson performing an outstanding rendition of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ to the steel drum band playing Guajina to graduate Matthew Young reciting an original poem. The first and loudest to applaud the talent and distinguished speakers were the graduates, so Principal Marcey Sorenson was honest to say the one word to describe class of 2015 was “alive”.
The defining moment during the ceremony came when Keynote speaker Dr. Jose Lopez took the podium. As a graduate of Tuley High School (before it became Roberto Clemente High School) he addressed the graduates on an intellectual level and spoke to the importance of digging deep into you culture, and history to discover who you really are. Asking African Americans to dig deep into their history, defining them as “the most resilient people in this country”. Asking Puerto Ricans to dig deep into their history of struggle. Mexicans to dig deep into their rich cultural history, and many more. He then asked the graduates to look critically at gentrification in Humboldt Park. “The newcomers believe they are bringing prosperity into this community, but it is you who will bring prosperity into this community.” It was a powerful moment that neither the graduates nor audience will forget.
As the ceremony concluded the graduates walked back down the aisle with their tassels indicating they have completed high school, there was happy yet somber atmosphere. Many hugging teachers, mentors, and friends for the last time. While proud family members cheer them on. Roberto Clemente Community Academy has competed another year under International Baccalaureate instruction and standards, growing the next leaders in the Humboldt Park community.