Metro Nashville Public Schools held ceremonies Tuesday for students who graduated over the summer, primarily through credit recovery programs.

The two ceremonies, held at 10 a.m. for north high schools and 2 p.m. for south high schools at the Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School auditorium and on Facebook Live, saw 232 students walk across the stage to become graduates, according to MNPS spokesperson Sean Braisted.

Schunn Turner, MNPS executive director for north high schools, opened the morning ceremony with thanks to teachers, parents and guardians for their part in students’ lives.

She noted that for parents and guardians, as well as students, graduation is a major milestone.

“The first teacher of a child is his or her parent or guardian,” Turner said. “Your impact on your child’s life has helped shape who they are today. This day is not only a milestone for the lives of our graduates, but also a milestone in your life, too.”

She also introduced MNPS Chief of Innovation Sharon Griffin as the morning’s keynote speaker.

“Congratulations,” Griffin began. “The past 13 months have been challenging for all of us, and in particular for each of you.

“Each graduate who sits before us has persevered in the face of adversity and sacrificed in ways in which we never could have considered or even imagined, especially during the pandemic.”

Students who graduated Tuesday were mostly those who had, for one reason or another, missed a necessary credit to graduate in the spring. All of those students had their high school experience interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them to turn on a dime between virtual and in-person education.

They lost classroom time in their junior and senior years, and for much of their time back in classrooms, COVID-19 restrictions kept them from group activities that make up much of the high school experience.

MNPS’ summer credit recovery program, which ran alongside the Promising Scholars summer program, gave them the opportunity to earn those last few credits needed to walk across the stage Tuesday.

The afternoon’s keynote speaker, Chief of Academics and Schools Mason Bellamy, also reminded students that they persevered through a historically challenging year.

He also said he saw in them a continuing ability to move forward, and reminded them to always adopt a “growth mindset” as they continue into their adult lives.

“I see in this room a group of adults who have already learned one of life’s most valuable lessons,” he said. “I see a group of people that know the power of the word ‘yet.’ “

He and Griffin told graduates that they should recognize the challenges they faced over the past year and feel stronger for seeing them through.

“Graduates, be proud of your achievements and, more importantly, for the compassion, the resilience and success that you have accomplished,” Griffin said.

“Whatever course your future takes, it is my hope that you will look back on your years at Metro Nashville Public Schools as having prepared you to meet and deal with the challenges that life, not might, but will present to you.”

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