McKinley Elementary School’s Alumni Scholarship program began in 2008, and since then has awarded nearly $12,000 total to six graduating Burroughs High School seniors who graduated from McKinley Elementary School.
The scholarship recipient comes back to McKinley to give a speech to the students about how to achieve their dreams of going to college.
This year’s winner, Gracia Innocentia, came back to address the student body in an assembly last week.
Here is the moving speech that she delivered:
To the McKinley Panthers,
Thejourney ahead of you may seem rather long, but about a decade ago, I too, was sitting in this very auditorium listening to speakers, participating in student of the month awards, and much more! I, too, played in the playgrounds you played in, handball at the courts you competed in, and ate lunch under the shelter that you sit in. So, after a decade I can truly say that it has been a journey filled with many pleasant memories that I will continue to hold close to my heart. As you all will move on to Jordan Middle School and Burroughs High School, as I have, I would like to give a bit of advice that will leave a lasting impression on whatever you may want to pursue.
First off, I would like to say that whatever you do, do it because you love it!
Don’t do an activity because someone else is doing it, do it because you want to try it out! ASI began the school year at Jordan Middle School, I found out that I truly have a passion for music, ‘so l decided tojoin the band. This being said, if there are any of you who enjoy music, whether it be instrumental or vocal, I would highly encourage taking part in a music program as a student in middle school and high school. In addition, join activities to create friends because it is the best Way to get to know someone.
In my personal life, I have made some of the closest friends through the programs I chose to participate in, and the best way to enjoy something is to share it with the people you care about the most. One of the most important lessons I learned is to always work hard, even when it seems to be impossible.
A very intelligent person once said “Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits,” I believe in every word of this quote because if you believe in reaching the stars, you will be one step closer in achieving your dream.
As l transitioned into high school, I walked into a world of opportunities which allowed me to dream big!
I joined the marching band (traveling to New Orleans and Memphis) as well as the symphonic band and wind ensemble, the cross-country and track teams, and many clubs. These activities motivated me to be a better musician, athlete, and most importantly, become the best person l can be. High school is a time to pursue what you are really interested in and find out what the best fit is for you. It is sort of like trying on a pair of shoes; some might be a bit too large, too uncomfortable, or too small, but in the end, you will walk out of the store with a brand new pair of shoes that will be the perfect fit! Think of high school as the store, in which it has every type of activity you can join (or types of shoes that you can into), you will join clubs or programs that might, at first, interest you, but as time progresses, you don’t seem to like it anymore (shoes that might not suit you), but eventually, you will find an activity that you will continue to engage in, and maybe even continue with it throughout college!
That activity or program that you love so much will be the perfect pair of shoes that you will buy from the store!
So I would like for all of you to be successful students, Whether it be now or in the near future, because as I begin to remìnisce of my elementary and middle school years, I begin to put together the pieces that have become the concrete foundation of the person I was yesterday, am today, and will be tomorrow.
Thank you all so much, and I wish you the best of luck for your future,
John Burroughs High School” Class of 2013
Jordan Middle Class of 2009
McKinley Elementary Class of 2006