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A salute to the best and brightest

Miami Times Editorial Department | 5/29/2014, 9 a.m.

Miami Carol City and American Senior High Schools kicked off the graduation season for many of Miami-Dade’s graduates. In separate ceremonies, seniors proudly hurled their caps at the Bank United Center on the University of Miami campus Tuesday. Other schools will hold festive sendoffs for seniors in the coming days to the delight and pride of many parents, teachers and friends. With top scores on the FCAT, a wealth of scholarships and more college-bound seniors, educators and administrators, including School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho should be congratulated for a job well done.

Perhaps the biggest kudos should be given to students, particularly those in inner-city and urban neighborhoods where many have lost classmates to gun violence. For any teenager, the tragic loss of a friend and classmate can be devastating. It can also be an overwhelming distraction to determined students trying to achieve academically to get into college. Add poverty and despair to the equation and the result could be failure.

But this was not the case for thousands of high school graduates this year. Of course, no school system is perfect, even Miami-Dade’s, the nation’s fourth-largest with 350,000 students. Amid the academic achievements and inflated grade-point averages, one may find lingering problems of low achievement. But the string of academic achievements in the past year have propelled educators, administrators, parents and alumni to the head of the class.

Frederica Wilson’s 5000 Role Models Program handed out some $865,000 in college scholarships in Overtown recently. Booker T. Washington alumni and local businesses, including The Miami Times, awarded nearly $200,000 in funds to deserving students at its annual ceremony at the historic school several weeks ago. And the Bayside Foundation last Friday held their inaugural scholarship awards ceremony to help 26 bright minority students pursue college careers.

Many of these students overcame seemingly impossible odds to achieve impressive academic records that have gained the attention of top colleges and universities around the country. At Booker T.’s awards ceremony, one high-achieving scholarship recipient who was in a car accident saw two friends die. Another bright scholar found himself studying outdoors after his mother was evicted.

Which is more impressive, grades or resilience? For these students, it is both. But resilience is not part of the curriculum at any institution of learning. It’s gained in the school of life on the hard streets of Miami. Many of these strong, bright students have passed some of life’s toughest tests with flying colors. For that reason, parents should applaud and rejoice their child’s academic success, but also their spiritual growth and maturity in mastering tough circumstances. These students have become an inspiration and hope to thousands of students who face daily pressures from social ills that no textbook or quadratic equation can solve. From high crime, foreclosure to the devastating economic recession, this year’s graduates have fought the good fight. They have gained character, confidence, strength and faith from their determination and perseverance. They will need these prerequisites for greater tests down life’s rocky roads, but at least they will be ready.