– In his address to the Class of 2012 on Friday night, Poughkeepsie High School Principal Edgar Glascott said, “I’ve always had the mindset that when you enter this building, you are my responsibility and I will treat you as if you were one of my own children.” Perhaps that is why Glascott can boast about Poughkeepsie’s 83% graduation rate this year. Among those graduates was 16-year-old Joash Ward, the Poughkeepsie High School Valedictorian.
Fellow students have often asked him, “how did you do it? How do you stay so focused?” The answer, Ward says, is the Lord’s prayer. That strong religious belief was referenced many times throughout his 10 minute Valedictory Address.
“First and foremost I would like to thank God,” Ward began. Expanding on how he was able to achieve such a high honor, he humbly remarked, “The Bible says with God all things are possible.”
Along with God, Ward thanked two people who have had a huge impact on his life: his grandmother, who came from the Dominican Republic to attend the event, and his mother.
Each stood up in the auditorium at the request of Ward, to thunderous applause. A moment later, his father and siblings were also acknowledged, as was his ethnic background.
“It is a great joy and honor that I stand before you tonight as the African American, Dominican American, Valedictorian of Poughkeepsie High School,” Ward said to more thunderous applause.
Ward referenced many historical figures during his speech to the 215 graduates, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Joan of Arc. “They are a prime example of how sacrifice and true leadership can have a lasting impact long after a person is dead,” Ward said.
At the end of his speech Ward charged his fellow classmates to, “Practice responsibility with good decision making, because you only live once.”
“We were put on this earth to make it better. No position is too small that it cannot contribute,” Ward concluded.
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