When the 140 seniors from West Mecklenburg High were called into the auditorium on May 17, they thought they were in trouble and couldn’t recall what they’d done wrong. The surprise came as they crossed the street and entered the fellowship hall at Harvest Church, where they were greeted by a wall of presents and a celebration in their honor. The students are West Meck’s finest—each of them has received a letter of acceptance to a college or the military—and the staff was anxious to give the students the recognition they deserved.
The event started with games to help the students get to know more about their classmates and their post-high school plans; the students even tested how well they knew their staff members. The parishioners opened their kitchen and fed the students a delicious meal. Then the beauty of the event unfolded.
One-by-one, students were called to the wall of gifts and one-by-one, each of the 140 students received something special to help them transition from high school. Each gift was donated and wrapped by the school’s staff as a small token of appreciation for the hard work the students put in over the years. From notebooks to ironing boards and lamps to televisions, the students left holding on to something that made them look forward to their future.
“There were pretty, decorated gifts everywhere,” said Kayla Jordan who will attend Bennett College this fall. “I never thought they would do something like this—they are so busy with their students. This shows us how much they care about us. They’ve stayed on us and that’s why we’re going to college.”
Torri Staton, West Meck’s college access advisor, is proud of the students. Many of them overcame serious challenges and socio-economic disparities to cross the stage and receive a diploma.
“We applaud these kids because they came in to high school serious about their education.”
The staff members beamed with pride as they called the names of the students and shared a special memory they have of their years as West Meck students.
“We’ve focused the celebration on the kids who work hard so that we can show them their work is recognized,” said Tracy Forst, the school’s AVID coordinator. “These are the kids who did the one thing we asked them to do.”