InspireNOLA holds Senior Induction Ceremony

InspireNOLA holds Senior Induction Ceremony
Posted on 09/13/2019
NEW ORLEANS [September 13] — More than 600 InspireNOLA Charter Schools seniors from Edna Karr High School, Eleanor McMain Secondary School, and McDonogh 35 High School were inducted into the InspireNOLA Senior Academy in a ceremony Tuesday night at Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts. 

The purpose of the event was to provide a rite of passage for scholars to start their senior year and introduce students to the new Senior Academy, which is designed to prepare students to make the most of their last year of high school in preparation for college and life after. It will encompass leadership development, college readiness programs, career days, guest speakers, and community involvement.

“Today marks a very special day as we set off a special year for our seniors,” Jamar McKneely, InspireNOLA CEO said as he welcomed students and their families. “For the first time, we are bringing together scholars from three historical high schools in the city of New Orleans. You will hear the pledge of how we are going to work together this year to get you where you need to go to have a successful future.”

Guest speakers ranged from alumni, to politicians, to educational leaders.

Emily Wolff, director of Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families, welcomed students and offered well wishes on behalf of LaToya Cantrell.

“Our mayor is so proud of you already,” she told the scholars. “She knows you will do great things. She knows how you defy the odds, reach higher, and accomplish your goals.” 

Dr. Lisa Mims-Devenzin, Chancellor of Southern University of New Orleans and McDonogh 35 alumna, told InspireNOLA students that they will always be welcomed at SUNO. 

“I want you to know that each and every one of you has a purpose, a calling, a destiny to fulfill. No one else can make that happen for you but you,” she said. “You have the power to change the world.”

Leslie Ellison of NOLA Public Schools referred to the Ashe Cultural Arts Center Drum Circle, which performed while students and family entered the theater, as she spoke to the students.

“As we heard the drums, I heard the sounds of victory for 2020. As I heard the sound of drums, I heard the sound of triumph,” she said. “Any time you feel like you want to quit, remember those drums. This is the year you are going to accomplish much. Strive for excellence.”

InspireNOLA also announced partnerships with regional colleges as part of Senior Academy: SUNO, Dillard, Delgado, Wiley, Mississippi Valley State University, UNO, and the Common Black College Application.

“You are your ancestors’ wildest dream. It is our hope that the InspireNOLA Senior Academy will serve as the support system you need to activate your dreams into reality,” said Timolynn Sams-Sumter, director of Engagement and Impact for InspireNOLA. “For many, senior year will be filled with lots of emotions and uncertainties. You are on the brink of making some of the biggest decisions of your lives. The purpose of tonight’s induction is to exhibit wholeheartedly that we, your village, will use this year to motivate, encourage and inform you as seniors and your family about the pathways to your college and career choices after graduation.”

Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre delivered the keynote address. Butler-McIntyre is a 30-year educator in the state of Louisiana and the former national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the largest African American Greek-lettered sorority in the world.

She told the students a story about a professor who filled container with large rocks. Everyone thought the container was full. And then he added small pebbles. And then sand. And then water.

“This container is like your life. The big rocks are the important things. You are all going to leave here tonight with three rocks: the rock of choice, rock of excellence, and the rock of example. Find out what are the big rocks in your life,” she said.  

Butler-McIntyre urged students to take responsibility. 

“Don’t wait for someone to respect you. Respect your own self. Don’t think like the crowd. Think for yourself,” she said. “Kick old habits that make you stagnated. Love one another. Make a difference in somebody else’s life. Never give up. If you get knocked down, catch your breath and get back up. Make a change. Make a difference.” 

Additional speakers included Gina Swanson, Karr class of 1997, Jade Brown-Russell, McMain Class of 1996, Jason Hughes, McDonogh 35 Class of 2001, and MorKeith Phillips of Southern University of New Orleans Honore’ Center. 

Karr senior Madelyn Duronslet and McMain senior Brandon Austin served as Mistress and Master of Ceremonies.  Entertainment was provided by the Dancin’ Divas of Eleanor McMain, Voices of Pride Edna Karr Choir, and Tyrianne Smith, a McDonogh 35 senior, who performed a spoken word piece.

“I ask you remember this night,” Dr. Wylene Sorapuru, InspireNOLA’s Chief Academic Officer, said to students in closing. “Commit to excellence and always be second to none. I am proud of you and proud of your futures, and I expect nothing but the best from you.”

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About InspireNOLA Charter Schools
InspireNOLA Charter Schools operates a network of seven public charter schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 2013, InspireNOLA is currently the highest performing open-admission charter management organization in New Orleans and is the only network with one A-graded school and two B-graded schools. InspireNOLA currently serves more than 5,200 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade. 
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