Philadelphia Graduation Sees 280 Receive Diplomas
It was a joyous celebration on June 8 in Philadelphia as 280 Camelot students received their diplomas at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
For Freddie Matanzas, who was expelled two years ago from the Philadelphia High School for the Performing Arts, the opportunity at Excel gave him a new start.“I wasn’t going to come back to school but a school district outreach person said there’s an excel program that would allow you to graduate early and I said OK,” Matanzas said. “I’m going to go to Community College and then transfer to Temple for IT. Excel is the best school. The staff is really supportive.”
Felicitie Comers, who is headed for Indiana University of Pennsylvania, calls going to Excel the best decision she ever made.
“At first I was very hesitant to attend a school for under-credited students. But they never told you that you would make life-long connections there and have life-long friends, not just with students but with teachers. Some of the teachers cared so much and I never had that in a school.”
Khalem Cottom called graduation a huge day.
“I’ve been through a long journey. I was in school longer than I was supposed to be but I didn’t give up and I just kept going and now I’m here.” Khalem plans to attend Temple University.
Another graduation speaker commented, “I went to one of the best magnet schools in Philadelphia and one bad decision put all that on hold. I thought it was the end of the world. But Camelot Academy gave me a second chance. Everyone from staff to teachers showed me the real definition of perseverance and determination.” This student is graduating a year early and attending Community College of Philadelphia.
For Juan Maldonado of Camelot Academy East, graduation celebrated a big turnaround in his life.
“Camelot has given me an amazing education. I could not ask for anything better. I went from thinking that I had messed up but today I stand before you the class president. “Surround yourself with positive people, the kind that will build you, not bring you down.”
Sierra Jenkins of Excel Academy South noted that Camelot students must overcome situations life has thrown at them.
“Hardships and obstacles are something that as Camelot students we have all been very much accustomed to. Self-doubt, broken homes, raising children, graveyard shifts, responsibilities well beyond our years, incarceration and even mental health issues are just a few of these obstacles. All the late nights and dedication to push forward have led us here today.”
Every student at Camelot has a unique story but they all confronted challenges and with teachers and staff devoted to their success they made it to graduation day, just the beginning of a much more optimistic future.