CAMDEN, NJ—The Camden High School Class of 2018 made some history on Monday afternoon.
The graduating senior students became the first students to graduate from Camden High School while housed in its temporary location at the Hatch Middle School. A $130 million new Camden High School is currently under construction.
“Today you take your place in the storied history of Camden High School, and rightfully so, as it is through you the legacy and the spirit of Camden High School lives on,” Principal Alex Jones said. “You are the best class to graduate Camden High School — inside of the Hatch school building — ever.”
Camden High’s class of 2018 was made up of 178 students, with 53 of those students either attending college or enlisting in the military.
Outgoing Camden City School District Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard warned the class that it was going to get harder, but to have faith in their abilities.
“Everyone who has played a role in your life would agree with this: its going to get a lot harder before it gets easier. But know also this — if you’ve gotten to this point, you can go anywhere you want,” said Rouhanifard.
The graduation ceremony was highlighted with musical performances, including the graduating class together singing “Smile,” by River Kirk Franklin, motivational speaker John Royal and recognition of Anj’e Jones, who received the school’s Shining Star award from Principal Jones.
“One of the things we work hard at is what we call changing the narrative. We know what people say about us … Knowing what the narrative is that we work very hard to change, we often tell our students the importance of having good character, the importance of being appropriate, the importance of exhibiting acceptable behaviors, especially when no one is looking” said Jones, explaining the Shining Star award.
In his address to his fellow classmates, class valedictorian Naseer Jefferson spoke about his perception of Camden High as incoming freshman, and the reality of being student there.
"I was immensely afraid of attending because of all the negative things I heard about the school,” said Naseer. “All these rumors made the thought of attending the High a nightmare for me. But the experience of being a student here proved them completely wrong. I’m a part of an amazing class, with young men and women with bright futures ahead of them.”
On Friday, the four other CCSD high schools — Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy, Dr. Charles E. Brimm Medical Arts High School, Big Picture Learning Academy and Woodrow Wilson High School held their graduations.
The Woodrow Wilson Class of 2018 consisted of 241 students.
Principal Larry James told the graduating class that, “Hard work works.
“Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference,” said James.