When Dekaney High School seniors crossed the stage during graduation ceremonies on Friday, June 2, at Planet Ford Stadium, it was indeed a history-making event in their own lives – but they were part of an even bigger moment in the history of the school. Their class valedictorian and salutatorian were the first African-American females in the school’s history to simultaneously achieve their rankings.
Salutatorian A’myri Phillips, who will attend the University of Southern California to study to become a psychologist or cognitive behavioral therapist, reflected on the historical moment and the accomplishments of her peers.
“I stand before you as a proud African-American woman who will be the first out of (my siblings) to go to college, who has overcome many obstacles to be standing here today,” Phillips said. “I want to acknowledge the struggles many of us have faced as black students. From being underestimated and overlooked, to facing racial discrimination and microaggressions, we have had to navigate a system that was not always designed for our success. But through it all, we have persevered, we have shown up, worked hard, and defied expectations.”
Dekaney Valedictorian Cali Johnson, who will attend the University of Texas in the fall and major in nursing, told classmates not to fear the future, but to embrace the accomplishment of graduation and look forward with confidence.
“We should take in this moment, this ceremony, this day, and cherish it,” Johnson said. “Today is a commemoration of all we’ve strived for and the hard work we’ve put in to get here. We’ve yearned for this moment, we’ve earned this moment, and we’ve definitely earned this diploma. Today is our day.”
Links to both students’ graduation speeches: